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Out There Bad (Moses McGuire Book 2) Kindle Edition
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It's no picnic in McGuire's world. Rather, it is a dark, violent underbelly of a world he wades through. Life is a battle and you better be able to carry your own water. We are children of the battlefield, he muses. He thinks the Beatles were all wimps with their simpering love songs and simple solutions to complex questions.
Much of the action takes place in the environs of Los Angeles: "City of wild, damaged dreams and beautiful graffiti-splashed cement rivers." He explains: "This city is morally mortgaged to the hilt and drowning in the vig."
This book may be even more violent than the first McGuire book. He goes into "full tilt berserker mode. No mercy asked, none given." The book is nonstop action from start to finish. "Let someone take you down without retribution," McGuire explains, "you've started down that soapy path that ends with you being their shower toy." Make no mistake, this is powerful prose and a gut wrenching story.
So, if you are looking for a full-on action tale with tough, gritty verbage about a guy who tries to do the right thing, you've found your book.
What he has done here, in his second novel, is not easy.
We meet Moses Maguire in Beautiful, Naked, and Dead. He is the less civilized Spenser, Matt Scudder before the twelve steps, Dave Robicheaux without the gumbo, and, more critically, Milo Milodragovitch without the insight. As I said in my review of that book, it was a common story uncommonly told.
Out There Bad has the generous, and general, mix of swamp familiar to all recent endeavors in crime fiction. Strippers, Russians, California, and a few too many bumps of fat cocaine populate these pages in a fairly standard story of betrayal, revenge, and redemption.
What is not common is what Stallings does with Moses. Moses lives on these pages and his reflexes are infused with the lessons he has learned in the first novel. And there is more here. Stallings works with multiple points of view some of which succeed and some of which do not, but, all of which give this novel a feel that did not exist in the first.
The most creative and daring thing Stallings does is slice off a piece of Moses' psychosis and feed it back to him in Mikalya, He will love her and you will read it to see why and close the book with an interest in how this will further change him in the next novel.
Two final things that must be noted. Stallings must have gotten a filter or an editor because the phrase "baby doll" is virtually whited out of this book. The cover on this book is, as was the cover on Beautiful, Naked, and Dead, worth the price of admission.
But Stallings hit another grand-slam with this one. I finished it well over a week ago and bits of it still haunt me, and my heart breaks all over again for Moses and everything that haunts him so. I don't know how Stallings does it; he turns readers inside-out, flips them around and drops us on our tails with a thud. And we beg like children, "Do it again!"
Damn fine writing.
Fast, gritty and real is this novel. Don't dawdle. Read it.