REVIEW: Money Shot by Christa Faust

The Gist: They thought she’d be easy. They thought wrong.

It all began with the phone call asking former porn star Angel Dare to do one more movie. Before she knew it, she’d been shot and left for dead in the trunk of a car. But Angel is a survivor. And that means she’ll get to the bottom of what’s been done to her even if she has to leave a trail of bodies along the way…

So, is it any good? 

Er, yes. Very. 

There have been a few monumental reads for me. As a kid, I was gobsmacked reading Z FOR ZACHARIAH by Robert C. O’Brien. In my teens, there was CARRIE by Stephen King.  My twenties were punctuated very aptly with the meandering plot and disparate characters of Rupert Thomson’s FIVE GATES OF HELL. More recently, we’ve had David Moody’s understated z-horror, AUTUMN. And now there’s Christa Faust’s MONEY SHOT.

In short, it’s a cracker.

Basic story has former porn star, Angel Dare being invited to do One Last Job, with man-of-the-moment, Jesse Black. Alas, poor Angel finds herself double-crossed; beaten, raped, then shot and left for dead in the trunk of a car. But Angel wakes very much alive, and very much pissed off, with one thing on her mind: VENGEANCE.

Faust dedicates MONEY SHOT to Richard S. Prather, pulp fiction superstar, and it’s easy to see why. A keen collector of 40s and 50s pulp, Faust has captured both the mood and pace of the Dime Detective era, all the while putting her own unique spin on things.  There’s a Noir-friendly motley crew of characters, all lurking in the depths of contemporary LA’s underbelly, main players being ex-cop, Malloy, the straight-talking  muscle of the piece and Angel’s assistant, Didi, a 60-something industry has-been with the libido of a teenager. Angel herself is as sassy as they come, whipping out killer one-liners like nobody’s business as she untangles the web of deceit around her.  

Faust’s writing is pacey, witty, and super-engaging. Chapters are short and to-the-point, each ending with a cliffhanger. There are laughs, tears and plenty of action throughout. But it’s far from shallow: The darkness of human trafficking is relayed in a harrowing way, the horror writer within Faust stepping forward to deliver some powerful narrative. The characters are very well developed – you’ll love, hate or plain pity each sucka you meet, as the story hurtles towards its startling climax.

MONEY SHOT is an addictive book. A balls-to-the-wall pulpilicious ride, loaded with sex, drugs and violence. It’s a passionate read, with everything a good page-turner needs: solid characters, engaging plot, a little romance and thrills by the bucket-load. You’ll find it hard *not* to read all 250 pages in one sitting.  And that’s probably the best compliment I could ever offer a writer.

With the sequel, CHOKE HOLD, due out in October, this is the perfect time to meet pulp’s new bad girl…   

MONEY SHOT is published through HARD CASE CRIME and available through all good book stores and online retailers. Faust won the Spinetingler Magazine’s Rising Star award in 2009 for the book. For more details, check out Faust’s rather colourful website or friend her on facebook

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