- Series: Hard Case Crime Novels (Book 56)
- Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Hard Case Crime; Reprint edition (March 29, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857683233
- ISBN-13: 978-0857683236
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,505,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fake I.D. (Hard Case Crime Novels) Mass Market Paperback – March 29, 2011
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About the Author
Jason Starr has earned rave reviews for his work - from publications ranging from The New York Times to Entertainment Weekly, which compared him to Jim Thompson and James M. Cain. In 2004, he received the Barry Award for his novel Tough Luck, and in 2005 he won the Anthony Award for Twisted City. Starr now makes his home in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.
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Elitist critics would say that this book is an example of the "unreliable narrator" technique, where a first person narrator deceives the reader but that's not actually what's going on here. Tommy levels with the reader. He tells you everything he did with no whitewashing, warts and all. He's a clueless narrator, with no self-knowledge. He admits what he did and still feels blameless.
The author reveals Tommy one slice at a time, paragraph by paragraph, and you want to know more and more about him until at the end you can't believe you spent so much time with such a disgusting criminal. But on what page did you first realize that he was that bad? When did you stop liking Tommy Russo? I think the voice is what sucks you in. Tommy tells his story as if you were talking to him in the bar where he works. There's not one word out of character. He's not educated, but he's eloquent in his own way. I could say that this book is a clinical portrait of a psycho fantasist, but clinical reports are boring and this novel is anything but. When you get to the end you know who Tommy is and you don't like him, but you feel sorry for him....somehow. In other words, the author played you. Perfectly. Why didn't I give it five stars? Don't really know, but I'm going to read more by Jason Starr.
For me, Starr made his mark as a writer when he teamed up with Ken Bruen in his Bust trilogy (Bust, Slide, the Max). Although it was not immediately clear which writer was responsible for what portions of those three books, they were so good and so much fun to read, that it became a non-brainer to pick up another Starr book and see if it was any good on its on. Fake I.D. is one of the more modern selections of the Hard Case Crime series, which features such writers as Spillane, Block, and Westlake. Starr's inclusion with these greats is no accident. He is one of the modern hardboiled/noir writers who is worth following.
It is a typical noirish descent into the depths of hell, one circle at a time. The main character, Tommy Russo, is a a thirty-two year old loser, a bouncer in a lousy bar with dreams of making it big as an actor, a slight gambling habit, and lives in a miserable vermin-infested apartment. Tommy practically lives at the track and opportunity presents itself to him there in the form of a ill-dressed acquaintance who literally stinks of body odor. The acquaintance tells him that some guys are forming a syndicate to buy a racehorse and the each one needs to pony up ten grand. It all sounds like some greasy come-on to clip a few bucks out of Tommy and Tommy can't believe this loser has any money of his own. Little by little, though, as Tommy blows his pay and his advances, he comes to believe that maybe he can become a horse owner through this syndicate and sit in the owner's stands like the bigshots. Of course, Tommy doesn't have ten grand. Hell, he doesn't even have enough to buy dinner and eats at the bar where he works, but he wants in and in he is going to get.
Tommy is going to come up with the money one way or another even if it means ripping off jewelry while his date is sleeping or breaking into his boss's safe to steal the superbowl pot. In lesser hands, this story would be a short, little nothing, but Starr creates a compelling character of Tommy Russo and the reader can identify with him as he does things that are just too stupid to be true.
The story, although it takes place in the modern era, evokes the older pulp themes of a guy who just can't get a break and who tries to get that one last break before the world crashes around him. Starr's writing is compelling and its amazing that he makes so much out of this story. Its another great Hard Case Crime read.