Out There Bad by Josh Stallings

Out There Bad by Josh Stallings“I don’t believe some higher force is planning this life for me. If I did, I’d give up, lay down and die right now. Because it would be clear, that fuck in the sky hates my ass.” – Moses McGuire

Well, even if there is no “fuck in the sky” that hates Moses’ ass, there are plenty of people right here on terra firma ready to step up and fill that role. It’s not that Moses tries to piss people off, he just can’t help it.

As he remarks at one point in Out There Bad, Josh Stallings’ mind-blowingly spectacular follow up to Beautiful, Naked & Dead, “You know me, if there’s any shit in a ten mile radius, I will step in it.” And, oh my, has Moses stepped in it this time.

When we last saw forty-three year old suicidal strip club bouncer Moses McGuire his life looked like it had finally turned a corner. He’d avenged the death of his best friend and, along the way, fallen in love with her twin sister. Off to Baja they went to settle down and live happily ever after. Yeah, well, life doesn’t work like that for Moses.

As Out There Bad opens Moses is once again alone and working as a bouncer in that same old strip club in LA. When a misunderstanding – one involving a patron’s broken jaw and ribs – lands Moses temporarily out of a job he decides to go hit another strip club and see how things are going on the other side of town. And that’s when Moses’ cosmically bad karma kicks into high gear.

A few drinks and one lap dance later and Moses once again finds himself falling hard for a beautiful stripper with a sad story. Lured to America by promises of legitimate employment and the American dream, instead she and many of her countrywomen have found themselves trapped in a life of stripping and prostitution. Even worse, her thirteen-year-old sister has fallen prey to the same scam and is somewhere in Mexico being “prepared” for her life as a sex slave before being shipped on to LA. Saddle up, folks, because Moses is headed for Mexico and things are gonna get rough.

Josh Stallings’ debut Beautiful, Naked & Dead completely rocked my world. It was blatantly obvious from literally the first page of that book that Stallings has serious skills. I was confident I would not be disappointed with its follow up, but I honestly could not have envisioned how much farther Stallings would be able to take things. Though only one book removed from his debut, Out There Bad nevertheless shows that Stallings is not only confident with what he’s doing, but that he’s settling even further into his amazing groove as a writer.

The complexity and depth that make Moses more than just some big brute running amok are once again on display. Warrior though he is, it’s not the physical beatings and hardships – and make no mistake about it, Stallings puts Moses through quite the grinder – that leave the lasting scars on Moses. No, it’s the psychological damage than Moses endures which is what truly shapes him as a man. Even those who seek to physically destroy Moses come to understand that, as one particularly motivated torturer has a revelation about the true best way to get Moses to crack:

“Do you know what is the great motivator? Not fear, no. Guilt. Pain fades and must be re-administered. Guilt can break a person for life.”

And damned if Stallings doesn’t do everything in his power to break Moses. If he didn’t do it so skillfully I’d hate him for the things he puts Moses through in Out There Bad. Not completely heartless, Stallings does bring Moses’ wonderfully stoic sidekick from Beautiful, Naked & Dead, Gregor, back for another go round, and even provides them both with help from a most unexpected, intriguing, and deadly ally.

Josh Stallings is the real fucking deal. He started off hot with Beautiful, Naked & Dead, has downshifted into blazing in Out There Bad, and god only knows where we’re gonna end up in Moses’ next outing, One More Body. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re all going “Straight to Hell.” (Read the book and you’ll get that joke. )

Out There Bad is available from Heist Publishing on Kindle or in paperback (ISBN: 978-0615497853). Also be sure to check out Josh’s guest post, “Mayhem & Thuggery.”

Josh Stallings is your average ex-criminal, ex-taxi driver, ex-club bouncer, film making, script writing, movie advertising editing, punk. Google him and you may find out he has won many awards for his work as a trailer editor. He wrote and edited the feature film “The Ice Runner,” a Russian/American co-production. “Kinda Cute for a White-Boy” an independent feature he directed and co-wrote with novelist Tad Williams, won best picture at the Savannah International Film Festival. He also wrote “Ground Zero Texas,” a best selling Sony video game with Edward Neumeier (writer of RoboCop). He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Erika, his bullmastiff Nelson, Lucy the lab pit mix and Riddle the cat. Out There Bad is his second novel featuring Moses McGuire following Beautiful, Naked & Dead. To learn more about Josh, visit his website. You can also follow Josh on Twitter.


  • nigel

    July 3, 2011 - 7:28 AM

    late to the party, but happy i made it.


  • Paul D Brazill

    July 2, 2011 - 6:08 PM

    Straight to the heart of a great book. Top!

  • Thomas Pluck

    July 2, 2011 - 9:40 AM

    Great review of a great book… I’m savoring it for this long weekend. The first one was a blast, with an intro to a great character. This one is even better, a deeper look into the underbelly. Fans of Vachss should be all over this. Josh is from the same world, and writes the truth.

  • Eric Beetner

    July 2, 2011 - 1:09 AM

    Yes, but what did you really feel about it? It’s hard to tell from this. Should I read it? Prop open a door with it? Who can tell?

    For those in L.A., Josh will be reading from Out There Bad at the kick off gathering of Noir at the Bar – L.A. Edition. July 17th!

    Also Duane Swierczynski will be there. I also don’t know if Elizabeth likes his work either. Stop being so vague about it, Monkey!

    • Elizabeth A. White

      July 2, 2011 - 11:03 AM


      Thanks for letting people know about the Noir at the Bar LA Edition. Anyone in the area who doesn’t get their ass out to that should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Josh Stallings

    July 1, 2011 - 10:29 PM

    Thank you all for the good words… Elizabeth you amaze me. Erika just read it and said “Damn she’s a great writer” she was impressed by the way you can get to the bone of a story. THANK YOU!

  • Charles Wingfield

    July 1, 2011 - 5:43 PM

    I thought the review of the first one sounded good, but I fess up that I haven’t bought it yet. No worries – I’ll be buying BOTH of them asap after this review.

  • Steve Weddle

    July 1, 2011 - 4:15 PM

    sounds excellent

    • Elizabeth A. White

      July 1, 2011 - 4:18 PM

      Even better than the first, which I would not have believed possible. Dude has crazy mad skillz.

  • Sabrina Ogden

    July 1, 2011 - 3:34 PM

    Squeeeee! I have this and I’m so close to being ready to read it that every review and every mention makes my heart ache from being so far behind in my reading. I love this character, and after BN&D I could only imagine bigger and greater things with the next book in the series. Josh is an incredible writer and I’m truly, truly thankful he’s been found! Excellent review, Elizabeth. I think I might have to abandon my sleep this holiday weekend and get this book read! Squeeeeeee!

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