THIS WICKED WORLD by Richard Lange – A Review.
Two months ago I had never heard of the American novelist Richard Lange. Fast forward two months and two novels later, and he is fast becoming one of my most favourite authors of our current time. I am self-proclaimed MASSIVE perfectionist, have O.C.D tendencies and so I employ a vast research operation when trying to decide which books I shall order next to read. Not sure how I stumbled on Lange’s current novel Angel Baby(see my 2013 book review blog), or who I read recommending it in an article…but one day I need to try and track this person down to thank them. From loving Angel Baby, it thus prompted me to order and read This Wicked World. Yet again here the reader is witness to great characterization, masterful prose and a gripping, pulsating, crime thriller storyline.
The novel revolves around the mysterious and somewhat disturbing death at the beginning, of a Mexican immigrant called Oscar Rosales. The fact Oscar is detailed to have infected dog bites all over his body highlights the further intrigue that is about to follow. Our hero of the book, Jimmy Boone(ex Marine and Bodyguard to the stars) is enlisted by a Bar Security Guard friend to look into the nature of this death, after his Uncle pays them for any information they can get about what happened to him. After nothing much is found Robo(the Bar Security man) quickly loses interest. However, in order to achieve redemption for past sins he committed and feels guilty of, Jimmy Boone persists in trying to find out what really happened to Oscar. The story and chapters about Jimmy are set in contrast with the more darker chapters featuring Taggert, a much feared and viscous Gangland Boss who lives in remote desert country. He has his trusty killer lieutenants Spiller and T.K, and a feisty girlfriend in Olivia(whom he has very dysfunctional relationship with…think Den and Angie Watts from Eastenders….but with guns ha). Taggart breeds and stages dog-fighting at his ranch, and it is this activity of dog-fighting that leads Boone to Taggert. The more Boone delves into Oscar’s past then the more he gets drawn into this very dark, dangerous world. Needless to say Boone’s new girlfriend(ex cop now teaching, also seeking redemption for something done in her past) gets caught up in the crossfire. As with Angel Baby, the story and emotional intensity slowly builds and builds, to the extent that there is this big explosion of an event(quite literally) in the concluding part….it is beautifully and very cleverly put together by Lange. We also get a happy ending which an old softie like me always craves for, so on a multitude of levels I was left feeling satisfied and happy as I finished it.
Trying to find any real weaknesses to this book is quite difficult in my opinion. The Central characters are well rounded, not mere gun tooting stereotypes, and with particular regard to the viscous Taggert, even he is shown to a have a vulnerability to him that makes him a more believable type of character. I guess you could question the absence of a Police presence in the background to some of the events that happen, but in fairness to Lange he is aware of this by detailing how his characters are constantly aware about not leaving any corroborating evidence left behind of their crimes. Is the final shoot-out a tad far fetched? Perhaps, but it totally had me gripped praying good would triumph over evil in the end.
Lange reveals to us a ‘Wicked World’ where lots of ‘wicked’ things happen but it is such an addictive sphere to read about. After reading this you may feel the urgent need to dash to the Confession Box to cleanse your soul of the kind of ‘Wicked World’ you have just lay witness too. However, this is a brilliant tale that Father will forgive you for being TOTALLY ABSORBED by. Trust me, after reading this there will be no need to ask for forgiveness. 5/5