Monday, December 17, 2012


Anthony Neil Smith

Self-published ebook, 2011
(originally published by Point Blank in 2006)

Because Lydia didn’t have arms or legs, she shelled out three thousand bucks to a washed-up middleweight named Cap to give her ex-husband the beating of his life. Before the car wreck took her limbs, she was in control of Ronnie. She kept the house, the Lexus, and got a generous check every month. Thankfully they never had kids, so the money was hers to do with as she pleased—Caribbean trips, an interior designer, acceptance in the power circle of Gulf Coast doctors, lawyers, casino investors. Then an SUV turned her sporty coupe to scrap and Lydia to a quad amputee.

Even having lost arms and legs, Lydia could not forgive her ex-husband his outright mockery: bastard brought a girl into Lydia’s house and forced Lydia to watch as he’d had sex with a girl. But the attack on her ex-husband goes awry, he was indeed murdered, so was the middleweight. Murderer, against all the circumstances, is a fat gambler Alan Crabtree, which original plan was to shoot the beating on video. Bringing the videorecord to Lydia and hoping to get some money from her, Alan tries on the role of Lydia’s lover. A lover, but a nurse for her, too: he helps her bathe, eat, deal with prostheses, he takes her out of the house. Alan sees Lydia as a gentle creature that needs care and warmth. Lydia gives him an allowance, and Alan, instead of looking for a job, gamles her money away. Soon the work for Alan appears: Lydia, whose husband was a cocaine dealer, promotes Alan as a hit man, and Alan gets the first customer, an old friend of Lydia, the dealer as well.

Alan has to kill another dealer, a partner of the late Ronnie. Alan, who is no murderer at heart, begins to muddy the waters and waste time when in the story come a couple of car thiefs, who know Alan pretty well.

Next we read about murders, chase through several states, revenge psychopath, in general, all the range of pulp pleasures. The story is told from different points of view, from Alan and Lydia to the car thiefs, the dealer and the strange girl dressed as a nurse. Legless and armless, Lydia is the axis around which novel’s events evolve. But Lydia is the least convincing character there. She is, of course, femme fatale, straight from film noir more than half a century ago, but at the same time, she is not the typical femme fatale. In «Psychosomatic» she plays with several men, trying to get what she wants, but she is not a senseless bitch, who cares only for money or power. She needs a man who always would care about her, but she at the same time does not want a one man, and she needs two, three, so that they’d adore her. Men are not ready for such a scheme and don’t want to share Lydia with someone else.

Anthony Neil Smith in his debut novel combines captivating authenticity in detail with grotesquely plot, and one can only encourage this combination.

Fast, agile, explosive book with the finale at the airport, just as exciting, as was exciting airport finale of «The Hunter» by Richard Stark.

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