Money Shot by Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime 2008). Ex-porn star, Angel Dare is having a really bad day. She arrives at a phony shoot and finds herself beat up, shot at and then left for dead in the trunk of a car.
To make matters worse, she doesn’t even know what the hell’s going on when she later learns that she’s a murder suspect, too. Yeah, mad doesn’t even begin to cover it. To quote Angel Dare:
I was so angry, it felt almost like love. Angry for being made to feel helpless and scared. Angry for having my nice comfortable life torn opened and savaged and left bleeding. Angry for getting the shit kicked out of me and Sam, too, all for something I didn’t even understand. I knew what I wanted to do. Find them and kill them.
Former porn star, Angel Dare had been living a really nice life before it all went to hell. After 9 or 10 years in the porn industry, she now runs a successful high class adult modeling agency in LA, called Daring Angels. One phone call from her mentor and friend, Sam, convinces her to do one last shoot for old times sake.
Creeping up on forty, Angel is looking her age. While she still works out and keeps herself in reasonably good physical shape, as she says, “being around all those gorgeous nineteen year-olds sometimes gets to me. Makes a girl feel like yesterday’s news.” To buoy her self-esteem, Angel’s willing to show off the goods that made her a star in the first place. Unfortunately, this decision changes her life forever.
Left for dead in the trunk of a Civic, Angel vows revenge. She is aided by Lalo Malloy, an ex-cop who now works as security for her models. Angel allows Malloy to take the driver’s seat in helping her track down the men who set her up and destroyed her life. Turns out that the bad guys were looking for a brief case full of money. Stolen money that was apart of a sex racket involving the illegal smuggling of foreign girls into the U.S for prostitution.
“Money Shot” moves at a brisk pace and with plenty of surprises. The story is told through Angel’s eyes via first person narrative that worked very well. The author seems to know her subject matter well with the porn industry as the backdrop. Angel along with the other characters, lived and breathed off the page.
Angel Dare is a smart, kick-ass heroine with her share of vulnerabilities. She provides us with wise-cracking commentary on the porn industry and her personal life. She often uses, somewhat colorful language. I didn’t really like a couple of things in the story and was thoroughly shocked and disappointed in one plot twist hence the lower grade.
And while the ending was realistic, I didn’t like it much either. Did Angel Dare achieve her goals? You have to read it to find out. Anyway, this story rocked from start to finish. B+. Christa Faust has made me a fan after reading one book. Alas, I didn’t see a digital version of this wonderful story anywhere which is unfortunate. Paperback available wherever paperbacks are sold.
Edited: Removed spoiler that I had covered.
Edited to mention that Super Librarian Wendy (and awesome blogger) actually recommended this book to me.