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CALIFORNIA NOIR by Howard Lakin

CALIFORNIA NOIR

By Howard Lakin

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0985908300
Publisher: DevonBooks

In Lakin’s debut novel, seven successful friends engage in a suspicious wager with a group of “billionaires gone wild.”

Rick Lang is the Midnight Rider, a top-rated, late-night radio host broadcasting live from “angst-riddled” Marin County, Calif. It’s not just a job—it’s a way to exorcise the depression he’s felt since the death of his wife, Paige, and their twins in a plane crash. Dr. Leah McLaren, Rick’s “most trusted babe,” directs the trauma unit at San Francisco General Hospital; for nearly two decades, she and Rick have known and loved each other, but Rick’s lingering grief has kept them apart. They and five friends—all single and all nearing 40—decide to take part in a dubious game run by a gambling cartel. According to the rules, all seven of them must get married to people chosen for them within a year. The marriages must happen in a particular order, and no player may tell their intended spouses about the game. If they all succeed, they’ll each win $2 million. Rick is told that he must marry an “eccentric recluse” who turns out to be a frequent caller to his show named Kelli. However, Kelli reveals that Rick and his “merry band of iconoclasts” are in danger. Lakin’s characters are cleverly imagined and their snappy dialogue captures the sarcastic cues of the world-weary rich, although some readers may find it hard to sympathize with young materialists leading charmed lives. In an intriguing twist, the characters discuss sex far more than they engage in it: Rick and Leah coyly play Twister and each take cold showers, and Kelli’s inheritance is conditioned on her celibacy. Throughout the novel, the author’s romantic descriptions of San Francisco, and a soundtrack ranging from Janis Joplin to Tupac Shakur, lend wistful notes to the proceedings.

A story of love, money and betrayal told with cleverness and humor.