Charles “Reader” Kincaid is not a man to be taken lightly. As intelligent as he is ruthless, Reader’s specialty is high-end hits—he does dirty deeds, but they do not come dirt cheap. His talent for and willingness to engage in killing came to him early, having beaten his father to death with a baseball bat at age fourteen.
Prone to boredom if not continually challenged, Reader also occasionally resorts to thrill crimes like armed robberies, something he admits is stupid, and for which he was busted twice.
While doing time for his second conviction, Reader comes up with the plan for the perfect crime, the one that will both make him rich and allow him to settle a score that’s been festering since the night he killed his father. A funny thing happens on the way to the perfect crime, however, when despite his best laid plans Reader happens to kill the wrong guy, and leave an unwitting witness. And that’s all in the first chapter.
Set in New Orleans before the time cell phones were ubiquitous, author Les Edgerton dials up the atmosphere in steamy NOLA with a quirky cast of characters, including Reader’s poorly chosen (or was he?) perpetual fuckup of a partner, a slimy double-dealing banker, a woman scorned bent on getting her pound of flesh, a one-eyed detective on a personal mission, and a pissed off drug kingpin among others. As Edgerton unfurls the seemingly straightforward plot, it quickly becomes apparent there’s more going on than initially meets the eye, and just how far down the rabbit hole Edgerton takes the readers is a joy to behold.
As with all of Egerton’s work, Bomb is not for the timid. The characters are violent, profane and willing to do damn near anything to get what they want, completely blurring the line between criminals and intended victims. There is one scene in particular I don’t think I would have read beyond in the hands of an author less skilled than Edgerton, but his razor-sharp way with words and impeccable sense of pacing is masterful, and you trust Edgerton never does anything gratuitously; if Edgerton puts it in there, it’s there for a reason, one that serves both the characters and the story.
Speaking of which, the story behind the story of Bomb is every bit as fascinating as the novel itself. You’ll not find a more raw, and heartbreaking, tale of how fickle and precarious the world of publishing can be, and it shows what an absolute mensch Edgerton is for sharing it as a foreword with his readers and fellow authors.
Bomb is available from Gutter Books (ISBN: 978-1939751201).