Books by Lynn Kostoff

THE LONG FALL by Lynn Kostoff
Released: June 1, 2003

"Kostoff (A Choice of Nightmares, 1991) writes well enough for a place in the neo-noir vanguard, but be warned: you really have to like noir, because it's hard to like Jimmy."
Six times daily, Jimmy Coates has to die to titillate the audiences at Big and Bigger Jones's Wild West Park, working a double shift (three shootouts per shift) because he's desperate for money. Pressuring him for it is a mean-spirited drug dealer/loan-shark named Ray Harp. Jimmy is into Ray big time, and Ray is growing impatient—and when Ray grows impatient, unpleasant consequences ensue, brought about by three thuggish enforcers who enjoy their work. One is a former member of the Phoenix PD with a particular reason for wanting to inflict pain on Jimmy. He's Aaron Limbe, who became an ex-cop when Jimmy—thinking he could rely on the anonymity he'd been promised—traded certain cop-incriminating information for a pass on a grand larceny rap. Actually, Jimmy has got trouble on a variety of fronts. There's Richard, for instance, his oh-so-respectable brother, whose solid citizenship doesn't prevent him from maneuvering Jimmy out of his inheritance. In retaliation, Jimmy decides to knock over four of Richard's dry-cleaning establishments and use the money to pay off his debt. But then an odd thing happens to Jimmy's petrified little heart—it gets hammered. He falls helplessly in love with his brother's restless wife, setting off a chain reaction that makes good turn bad, then bad good, as Jimmy gets more or less what he deserves. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1991

Forget southern California—first-novelist Kostoff proves that southern Florida is the ideal location these dope-dealing days for the noir thriller. Here, Kostoff polishes up all the elements of the genre- -including the luckless antihero, the femme fatale with the dark past (which isn't getting any lighter in the present), and a bunch of near-psychotic malefactors with a taste for the double-cross and the infliction of fear and pain. The author even brings off the sort of wise-guy Chandleresque metaphors that can seem labored in less skilled hands. His protagonist, Robert Staples, an actor with a stalled career in B-pictures, is more passive than most. The action—until near the end, when it seems almost too late—happens to him and around him, beginning with the loss of a package that his talent agent asked him to deliver. His passivity is increased by the amount of cocaine he sniffs, and by dogging the heels of a sexually adroit, maddeningly desirable woman for whom love is a four-letter word more disgusting than most. Nevertheless, he wins sympathy for not kidding himself and simply wanting to stay alive. The locales, Miami and Key West, are powerfully drawn as fallen Edens, purgatories with palm trees where Cubans, retirees, tourists, drug agents, and deal dealers (hard to tell apart) rub shoulders. Treachery keeps the plot twisting and turning, and sometimes obscuring itself, like a snake swallowing its tale. But the reader will read on. A noir thriller that delivers with vivid writing, smart plotting, and a deeper-than-usual insight into its flawed central character. Read full book review >