PIMP – Ken Bruen and Jason Starr

3 out of 5

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These fucking guys.  These guys, who write the most obnoxious, vile, despicable characters, characters whose motivations are solely sex, or money, or power – or, specific to this book, murky goals stirred from the incensed rages of a drug called PIMP – characters who seem to skirt by, thriving off those pursuits and the horrible ways they achieve them… and then actually make you interested in reading the damn story anyway.  These fucking guys.

PIMP, the next book in the Bust series, featuring sorta-kinda-wannabe drug kingpin (and notoriously small-wienered) Max Fischer, his on-again / off-again / hate-lover Angela, and all their many earned foes and associates, has Max post-jail, on the lam, plastic-surgeried and starting up a new empire in New York, thanks to the titular drug.  Meanwhile, because Bruen and Starr want to get cute, Angela, using her porn alias, is trying to weedle her way in to producing a TV show based on Bust, which, yeah, is the in-Max Fischer-universe book based on the first book’s events, the author of which is penning the sequels (…named just like their real universe sequels, of course) for Hard Case Crime.  Is Charles Ardai a character in the book?  Of course he is, and Bruen and Starr take the piss outta him too.

Because PIMP shifts us to Hollywood dealings, our writers take the opportunity to place us neck-deep in TV and movie show references, and so-and-so namedrops, all to elevate the tone of know one knows what they’re talking about that pretty much necessitates every horrible event in the book.  Of which there are many, many, many.  So many that I shouldn’t be surprised when one more happens, but these guys, god dammit, they’re good at what they do, and the biggest joy of PIMP is the confluence of all of this awfulness into an utter mess of noir mistakes, amped up to 11.

But: it actually takes a while to get there.  And maybe too long, though once you’re there, it’s golden.  PIMP has to first gather the disparate horses, jumping around a timeline and from character to character, and pairing us with people at some rather uninteresting points in their narrative, just to shuttle them to the next scene.  It’s funny enough, but not being latched to a few core people but rather, like, six or seven of them, PIMP can start to feel like it’s just taking random potshots at media and its featured losers.  Thankfully, all is forgiven once you get to the good stuff.

I stared at PIMP for a while, somewhat reluctant to pick it up, knowing the mire of humanity that’d be featured within.  Sigh, but it’s goddamned worth it, and I’m on the hook for the next one.

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