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Choke Hold Book Review

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Only Tarantino would do this justice...

Choke Hold Review

Hard Case Crime has been described as ‘the best new American publisher to appear in the last decade, and with their list of authors, it’s easy to see why. Their bestselling book is Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid (my treasured copy is encased in bubble wrap and a sturdy envelope so it won’t get damaged), but they also boast some wonderful talent including Ray Bradbury, Lawrence Block and Robert B Parker.

As you can tell from that list, Hard Case Crime only publishes the best writers and Christa Faust definitely falls into that category. She’s been nominated for a prestigious Edgar award and won a Spinetingler award in the ‘Rising Star’ category.

Choke Hold...Another thing that really sets these books apart is their retro style, Pulp Fiction-esque covers - they’re true works of art and would grace any bookshelf. Beyond that, they take you back to a bygone age where all women were busty babes and all men were hard bastards. Choke Hold’s glorious cover was designed by Glen Orbik, designer of twelve works of cover art for the same publisher.

Christa Faust is the first woman to join the ranks of Hard Case Crime’s authors and this is her second book with them - if you want to know how the hero of Choke Hold - the sassy and streetwise Angel Dare - ended up on the run with her ‘go-bag’ and living under yet another assumed name, you’ll have to read the first book Money Shot that earned its author rave reviews.

Choke Hold is the gritty tale of former adult movie star Angel, who’s hiding out under the Federal Witness Protection Plan in some rundown diner, when trouble comes walking through the door, carrying some serious fire power. Before she knows it, she’s running for her life along with Cody, the 18-year-old son of her former lover, a hot-headed, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter who wants to star in a reality TV show in Las Vegas, and his knucklehead mentor Hank.

The author doesn’t waste time tip-toeing into the action. Right from the off, she gets stuck in and never lets up. There’s violence aplenty and retribution, when it comes, is swift and brutal. Suffice to say, this is not a book to buy your grandma.

The strength of the book lies in the character of our narrator: ballsy broad Angel; right away you’re rooting for her. If there’s any fighting to be done she’s the first to get stuck in - a commendable strength considering her precarious circumstances - but at the same time, she’s by no means invincible, which makes for a well rounded character. You see, we do get glimpses of her vulnerable side, but when push comes to shove she’s the person you want beside you when the chips aren’t so much down as pelting you in the face.

Faust isn’t the product of some creative writing class and it shows in her writing. It’s no surprise to read that just like her main character, she has a background in the adult movie business. The image many people have of women being chewed up and spat out by the porn industry, is refuted throughout the book by Angel Dare who uses sex as a means to an end. It’s her currency - and her commodity - and as we know, it sells.

There’s a touch of Mickey Spillane about Faust’s writing. The dialogue just flows and you don’t end up asking yourself whose talking because you know the characters so well. As you’re reading Choke Hold, you can see this on the big screen...with Tarantino directing - a real credit to Faust and her remarkable style of writing.

The book is a rollicking read and perfect for those of us sick of women being the placid victims of violence in fiction; there to take it, not dish it out. Male readers will love this book too, because what man wouldn’t fall for our sexy heroine, even when they’d know she was playing them? Ultimately, if you like your books racy, violent and laced with a sardonic wit, then this is the book for you. But, if it’s Jane Austen you’re into - and darn is the nearest you want to get to bad language - it might be best to give this book a wide berth.

5 stars

Interested? Why not read an excerpt from Choke Hold here

Choke Hold is released on October 7th, 2011, priced £7.99.


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