I had never read a book by Les Edgerton before but I instantly recognized the name. When I had the chance to grab a review copy of "The Bitch," I did not hesitate to step up to the challenge of this author's reportedly hard-edged fiction.
Jake Bishop is an ex-con that has finally found stability in his life. With a wife and the prospect of starting his own business as well as the impending birth of the couple's first child, Jake has managed to successfully move beyond his criminal past and start life over again. When Jake is approached by his old cellmate, to whom he owes a debt for saving his life, he refuses to be dragged back into the life of crime. Then Spitball tells him that he has revealed some of Jake's secrets to a crooked jeweler that is demanding that the pair rob one of his business associates, Jake soon comes to realize that he has no choice but to take a part in the crime.
Jake had been one of the best at breaking and entering but had been scared straight by the prospect of "the bitch." With two convictions under his belt, Jake knew that his next conviction would lead to life imprisonment as a habitual criminal. With that being a certainty if he did not carry out the burglary, he has no choice to go along with the plan and take part in what appears to be an easy job. Unfortunately, things are never as they seem and Jake soon finds the situation spiraling out of control as he does everything he can to keep himself from becoming another victim of "the bitch."
I have to say that I was not disappointed in this novel. I had heard that Edgerton wrote realistic stories with an edge to them and "The Bitch" did not disappoint. The premise is a bit worn with the ex-con getting dragged back into crime against his will, but Edgerton carries it off in an original way. I also thought that the book got off to a little bit of a slow start, again in part due to the somewhat worn premise of the book that just makes the beginning feel like something that I had read before, but Edgerton kicks it into gear before it becomes tedious. Once this story is going, there is no stopping it.
"The Bitch" does not pull any punches once the action starts and Jake finds himself as little more than a pawn in an extremely violent game even when he believes that he has control of his actions. Things go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye and Jake is left to react in the only way that he can as he tries to save his freedom and his marriage. Life very rarely happens as expected and "The Bitch" shows this under a harsh light. Jake is a character that the reader easily comes to like and relate to and that makes the events of the story that much more horrific. He is easy to cheer for but nothing ever seems to break right for him. "The Bitch" quickly becomes a fairly raw story of a crime gone wrong in every way imaginable and the reader is left to breathlessly watch as Jake struggles against a cruel fate. If you enjoy crime fiction with a bit of an edge, this is the book for you.
I would like to thank NetGalley and New Pulp Press for this review copy. "The Bitch" is available now.