Wednesday, June 3, 2009

FAKE I.D. by JASON STARR


Jason Starr’s Fake I.D. was just released in the U.S. by Hardcase Crime after nearly a decade of only being available in the U.K. The wait has been hard on the old Nerd, but the timing of its release is kind of fucking perfect, really.

You see, dear reader, I’m scared for where Jason Starr appears to be heading. His last book (sans Ken Bruen, that is) was The Follower, no doubt a good book but way too “mainstream thriller” for the Nerd’s taste. Starr’s biting brand of yuppie douchedom peppered many of the main characters and the suspense was top-notch, but in the end it was a very traditional stalker novel, a plea for a new, less fucked-up readership.

Shit, The Follower even got a mass market paperback deal after long runs in hardcover and trade form. Obviously, somebody in the publishing world thinks Starr’s on the right track.

I wish the dude all the success in the world and everything, but I can’t seem to get excited about his new one, Panic Attack which is coming in August. I’ll fucking read it, for sure (no doubt it’ll be suspenseful as all hell, it’s what the dude does, for fuck’s sake), but I no longer have that raging nerd boner for his work like I used to, that old faith that his shit will go all the fucking way.

Fake I.D. is the old Starr doing what made me love him in the first place. It’s dark, nasty, hilarious, and undeniably hard-fucking-core.

It’s the story of bouncer, degenerate gambler and wannabe actor Tommy Russo, a cocky son of a bitch who thinks he’s got the world coming to him. One day at the track he gets an offer to join a horse-owning syndicate from a fellow degenerate gambler. Thing is, his stake in the ownership would be ten large, a lot of money for a New York bouncer to cough up. Then he remembers that the safe at the bar he works at has to have at least that much sitting in it…

Nobody writes asshole protagonists quite like Starr. He could really give a fuck whether you like Tommy Russo, just knows that the dude’s actions and general scumbaggery are going to draw you into the story regardless.

And that’s because, like I’ve said all along, the guy is a master at suspense. Fake I.D. is one of those rare books where you’re saying Oh fuck! and Oh shit! aloud through the whole thing, your heart just fucking racing from the tension. Goddamn it felt good to read some of the old nasty shit again.

I knew that Starr couldn’t do these types of books forever. There’s only so many ways to do his brand of updated yuppie James M. Cain novels before any self-respecting author would want to move on to something different. Personally, the Nerd could read this shit till the fucking cows come home and never give a shit about the same-y-ness in the fucking least.

But that’s, you know, just me in all my fucked-up glory, I suppose.

So pick this shit up toot-fucking-sweet, dear reader. Fake I.D. is a pleasant (in a nasty and sick sort of way) trip through Jason Starr’s old stomping ground: Noir York (Jesus fucking Christ - did I just type that lame shit?). And oh yeah: fingers well-fucking-crossed that Panic Attack is more Fake I.D. than it is The Follower.

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