Matchstick Men; A Novel About Grifters With Issues by Eric Garcia. Because I am writing a book about a con-artist I resisted reading this or watching the Nicholas Cage movie based on it until now. This ain't no Paper Moon, this book is a heart-breaker, even though I saw the quadruple blow-off coming.

Sweet Dream Baby by Sterling Watson. Watson is co-chair with Dennis Lehane of Writers in Paradise, the conference I have attended the last two Januarys. A year and a half after buying this volume I finally got around to reading it, and the book is fantastic. This is a genuine noir story and remarkably it's written from the point of view of a twelve year old boy. Many neo-noirs I read try to replicate the feel by emphasizing the environment that they associate with noir; usually LA in the '40's or '50s. Some are more successful than others at this. This book doesn't attempt that at all and so the moments where the story turns dark are more shocking.

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