The Smack is an exercise in finely pitched writing, and the kind of noirish tale you relish even as you dread turning the page to get closer to its conclusion.
[A] riveting, violent caper
Lange is a writer of clean and easy prose, and he's strong at structuring a narrative that builds toward an ever tightening climax. The Smack adds up to one of the nicer surprises of the season
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.
Lange's stories are knockouts. Gritty, humane, and utterly urban.
A natural-born storyteller
Lange's morality tales are not that far removed from the classic stories of O. Henry and Guy de Maupassant. With a distinctive style, Lange makes his downbeat tales of the underclass quirkily entertaining.
It's hard to imagine Richard Lange wasn't, in some previous life, a hustler from Reno with a girlfriend named Tinafey he met on a professional date who goes to LA to steal a fortune from a one-legged soldier home from Afghanistan and a host of other terrifying individuals. The characters are real and satisfying, the relationships will warm your heart and break it at the same time. The Smack is convincing, hectic and terrific fun.
The kind of book you'll want to savour
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.
What makes this collection a wonderful read is it's only marginally akin to anything else. Swift, gut wrenching, and sometimes cleverly disarming fiction by a master
Lange is a master at writing about characters on the margins of society and humanizing outcasts and misfits, and he manages to capture the surreal culture of Los Angeles in all its contradictory glory.
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. Simply put, The Smack wallops you upside the head with its bad-ass-ness.
Lange is an expert writer, his prose exact, his narrative tightly controlled...Petty may be a world-weary 40-year-old con man, but his character brings a fresh point of view to the world of noir L.A. Whatever he's selling, it's worth buying.
Richard Lange's stories are a revelation. He writes of the disaffections and bewilderments of ordinary lives with as keen an anger and searing lyricism as anybody out there today. He is Raymond Carver reborn in a hard cityscape. Read him and be amazed.
The man just keeps getting better. The stories in Sweet Nothing traffic in the vagaries of the human heart, those wants and needs that push us down dark paths. His vision is steely-eyed, yet you sense that Lange loves his characters - even the worst of them - and that compassion sharpens your own emotional investment.
In this breezy page-turner, Lange shows off his uncommon ability to combine toughness and tenderness.
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.
Like his protagonist, Dashiell Hammett Award winner Lange knows how to reel in his audience with a seductive story and plenty of misdirection. There's nothing criminal, however, about this rollicking, diamond-cut thriller shot through with elegance and heart.