La Ronde
by Townsend Walker
Truth Serum Press

"She's had dreams about him. Unfortunately for her, he dreams only of Jimmie."

La Ronde (The Round) is a novella based on the 1950 movie of the same name. Think of it as The Sopranos on steroids. No, it's probably closer to early Guy Ritchie films such as Snatch, Revolver, or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The point is it's rapid-fire mugs and molls with enough swank scenery and gaudy jewelry thrown in to make the malevolent goings-on malleable. Author Townsend Walker employs a sprinters pace by channeling Andrew Vachss' prose style minus the bone-crunching metaphors. In fact, the entire story is whisked out in a mere seventy pages. Think of it as contemporary crime in the drive-thru lane.

The plot concerns a Manhattan wife who's had enough of the black eyes and bruises inflicted by her brutish spouse. But she hasn't had enough of the financial holdings he has tucked away. Financial holdings she wouldn't necessarily have access to via divorce. So she turns to the next best thing—murder for hire. The real fun ensues once the wheels are set in motion. Before you know it, you're racing from a conversation over cocktails at the Plaza, to an afternoon assignation in New Jersey, to a poolside massage in Los Angeles, to threats in Venice Beach, and back to New York City for a final confrontation. Along the way a coterie of lying, conniving, unfaithful, and unlawful characters engage in an attempt to profit from the impending marital mayhem.

If you're looking for a nifty noir to nibble on, this just might be for you. But be warned, once you take a bite, you'll likely consume the whole thing before you stop.

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