Rowan Petty is a conman down on his luck. He’s flat broke, living out of cheap hotels, and wondering how it all went wrong. His car quits on him in Reno, and he takes a job there on the bottom rung of a lousy phone scam. When he’s not swindling lonely widows, he tries to turn nickels into dimes at the poker table. One snowy night, he crosses paths with a sweet-talking hooker who’s tired of the streets, and sparks fly.

When an old friend of his turns up spreading a rumor about two million dollars in army money smuggled out of Afghanistan and stashed in an apartment in Los Angeles, it seems like a chance at the score of a lifetime. So Petty and his girl head south, and straight into trouble. A wounded vet, a washed-up actor, and Petty’s estranged daughter are all players in the dangerous game they find themselves caught up in. For the winner: a fortune. For the loser: a bullet to the head.

Propulsive, suspenseful, and written with a searing lyricism, The Smack shows once again that “Lange is a writer firing on all cylinders who belongs in the top tier of novelists working today” (Omaha World-Herald).


“With all the dexterity of Thomas Perry, Lange walks the thin line between caper novel and blood-splattered noir, leading up to a rip-roaring finale. This fine piece of tragicomic crime fiction sets up like a stand-alone, but we’d sure like to see more.” —Booklist

“If Elmore Leonard and Dennis Cooper collaborated on a novel, they might produce something as exciting, harrowing and emotionally powerful as The Smack. Call it a literary thriller or call it thrilling literature—Richard Lange is emerging as the master of a new kind of novel: One that delivers breathless, gripping action while anchored in the authentic troubles of the real world. The Smack arrives like a genuine miracle—that rare thriller that will jack your pulse even as it breaks your heart.” —Adam Sternbergh, author of Shovel Ready

The Smack is much more than a crime novel. It is a novel about life itself. The secret to great writing isn’t just to observe. It’s to create a world that readers understand at least as well as they do their own. Richard Lange has accomplished this, and more. His sensitivity and pacing are reminiscent of Raymond Carver, Charles Willeford, and Jim Thompson.” —Gerald Petievich, author of To Live and Die in L.A. and The Sentinel —Gerald Petievich, author of To Live and Die in L.A. and The Sentinel

The Smack just might be Mr. Lange’s best yet, and that’s saying something. His Los Angeles tableau of concrete and graffiti and neon is as sharp as razor wire. The characters are authentic down to the bone, the dialogue pitch-perfect believable, the desperation palpable, the situation urgent, the story riveting.” —Tom Cooper, author of The Marauders




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