Since I'm at the World Horror Convention in Austin, I'm reprinting a review from 2006. It's time I called attention to this book again.
You have to be pretty audacious to write a novel with Jim Thompson as the main character. You have to be even more audacious to have Thompson writing a novel with the novel. Domenic Stansberry is nothing if not audacious.
It's 1971. Thompson's in Hollywood and just about at the end of his rope. He's having marital problems, he's sinking deeper into alcoholism, and he's having problems getting work. Then there are a couple of murders, and he's the prime suspect. The book he's writing and his own life seem to be becoming one and the same.
I'm not sure anyone could satisfy Jim Thompson's fans with a book like this, but Stansberry comes close. The tone of the book is dark, and it spirals off into the kind of craziness that Thompson routinely managed. The excerpts from the novel that Thompson are just close enough to the real thing to be convincing, and there's some good comedy when the cop investigating the murders gets into a homily-trading dialogue with Thompson. It's as if Thompson were talking to Lou Ford.
The book is short, only 184 pages, some of them blank. About the length of a Lion Book, say, or a Gold Medal. I'm sure this is deliberate, and Stansberry manages to cram a lot of plot into those pages. The portrait of Thompson might not be accurate, but it feels right. Check it out.