Books by John Ridley

THOSE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS by John Ridley
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 20, 2003

"Clearly a series, with this opener hard to match. "
Ridley abandons his stable of losers (The Drift, 2002, etc.) and creates a female cop in a near-future dystopian Los Angeles filled with psychic mutants. Read full book review >
THE DRIFT by John Ridley
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 23, 2002

"Maybe it's art. Maybe it's spiritual. Like a psychotropic redemption high."
Real badass. Yeah. Read full book review >
A CONVERSATION WITH THE MANN by John Ridley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 6, 2002

"Bleak and believable."
Writer-producer Ridley (Everybody Smokes in Hell, 1999, etc.) takes a somber look at the life of an African-American comedian in a country not quite ready for him. Read full book review >
EVERYBODY SMOKES IN HELL by John Ridley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Ridley's either one bad motha of a writer or simply one bad writer. But his stories in any case remain always at a boil and show a rich mastery of black English. Someone gotsta pay because he stolt Daymond's pure package of H and kilt his clocker. That someone is young Paris Scott, who has been working in a Hollywood convenience store. Like Ridley's degenerate gambler, John Stewart, in Stray Dogs (1997) and scriptwriter Jeffty Kittridge in Love Is a Racket (1998), Paris is a born loser unlikely to realize his million-dollar dream even when it drops into his lap. Paris's roommate is Buddy, teenage wheelman for Alfonso, who kills a roomful of mothas while copping Daymond's H, though Alfonso himself takes much lead and dies. Buddy hides the H in a duffel bag under Paris's bed, little knowing that the bag also holds the last works of Ian Jermaine, lead singer and composer for zillion-dollar rock group Will of Instinct. The night before, Paris had saved Filthy White Guy from being rousted and driven him home to his Xanadulike palace in Bel Air. Filthy White Guy turns out to be suicide-hungry Jermaine, eager to fill the legendary footprints of Marilyn, Jimmy Dean, and Jim Morrison. He's just taped his farewell in his home studio, playing all the instruments himself, and actually does go out in a blaze of glory—or, rather, fertilizer. With the tape and the H in his duffel, Paris has four different killers chasing him from Hollywood to Las Vegas. One is Brice, a female assassin whose specialty is deep pain before long-delayed oblivion. "She had great tits. Real and large. Not mutant-large, just large enough to fit with precision comfort into a man's wide and groping hand. Her two beautiful boobs swelled in an upward curve ending in full nipples that always looked erect. Her tits were the least of her. She was a hell of a woman." If you like that, there's plenty more—or even if you don—t. Read full book review >
LOVE IS A RACKET by John Ridley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 5, 1998

Second thuggishly pulp-styled novel by Ridley, whose Stray Dogs (1997) was filmed as the Oliver Stone dud U Turn. As James M. Cain found and Jim Thompson later confirmed, the female is the deadlier of the species. Jeffty Kittridge, a scriptwriter who has written only one unsubmitted script (A Kick to the Heart), which the various lowlifes here read and pronounce —beautiful,— is a con man who adapts short-change ruses out of Thompson's The Grifters until he runs into the big con that can change his life (a turn also out of The Grifters). In the novel's first sentence, two of Jeffty's fingers are broken to spur him to round up the fifteen grand he owes bookie Dumas. Jeffty is an alky who hangs out with other heavy boozers at the Regent bar, but his boozing's unconvincingly detailed and the bar is like a badly lighted movie set. Jeffty notices that Mona, a street beggar forever asking for change, is a ringer for Pier Angeli, once the love of James Dean, and he remembers that big producer Moe Steinberg still carries the torch for the late Pier. If he can clean up Mona and wave her in front of Moe, chances are he can get the bolus he owes Dumas out of Moe and save more fingers from getting broken. So he takes in Mona, pulls some low scams to get her done over by beauticians in the manner of Pier, and begins planting her in a bar Moe frequents. At last Moe shows up and bites on the bait. Meanwhile, vice cop Duntphy (a name hard even to think) locks up Jeffty to get him to put the skids to Dumas. The climax is a cat's-cradle of cons and deceptions. Good Cain novels are pleasures to reread, their turnings ever fresh. Each page here, though, has inky fingerprints smudging the original. May Ridley look into his soul next time instead of his bookcase. (First printing of 50,000) Read full book review >
STRAY DOGS by John Ridley
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 12, 1997

A high-concept hybrid mixes The Postman Always Rings Twice with Pulp Fiction, though the result bears none of the brilliant originality of those masterpieces. Newcomer Ridley, now 30, wrote this at 24, and eventually sold a screenplay based on the novel to Oliver Stone. But a reading of this vulgar, unsurprising debut fiction doesn't clarify what attracted Stone to the project in the first place. John Stewart, a wandering gambler who needs $13,000 to save his life from a Vegas hood, stops in the tiny town of Sierra in the boiling Nevada desert to get his ancient Mustang repaired. Sierra, it turns out, is a no-exit hell whose inhabitants are stuck to its environs like flies to flypaper. Everyone suffers from the same agonizing need to escape, as does Stewart, who discovers that once you enter the town, it's almost impossible to leave. Each time he tries to get out of Sierra he ends up even worse off, more battered, bloody, and desperate than before. Jake, a local realtor, offers him a way out- -if Stewart will kill Jake's wife Grace and it look like an accident so that Jake can collect on her double-indemnity insurance policy. Then Grace in turn asks Stewart to murder Jake, offering to split with him the money Jake's stashed under the floorboards of his house. Meanwhile, the Vegas hood dispatches two gunmen to kill Stewart, with orders to do so even if he does repay his gambling losses. Sierra's population consists largely of violent, not-very- bright, sullen losers, all working their own scams of one kind or another, as well as a lustful nymphet and the lascivious Grace. Double cross follows double cross until the deadly fadeout. Stunning drivel. But sell, once the movie is out? You bet. (Film rights to Phoenix Pictures/TriStar) Read full book review >