A Knucksline Review ... A Choice Of Nightmares, by Lynn Kostoff.
Robert Staples kept trying to explain why he threw Heidi in the alligator pit.
If that opening line doesn’t catch your interest, nothing will. Lynn Kostoff’s fast paced thriller of a novel, A Choice Of Nightmares, starts with that line and doesn’t slow down in suspense until all is said and done.
Robert Staples is a down on his luck B-grade actor desperate to make it. Russell Tills, his manager/agent has his fingers in any number of pies, but he’s become an anachronism in the fast-paced lane of drug dealing. A few rogue government employees, some Columbian cartel dealers, a killer with a changed name and his own Cain-Able story, the beautiful daughter of another government official with clout, a young kid on the prowl and poor Heidi make up the cast of the nightmare Staples is confronted with. To pursue his acting dream and live life one mall/store opening gig after another until he catches his break (if ever) or to risk it all and go hedonist with the beautiful Denice and leave his past (acting included) behind once and for all?
In essence, “to be or not to be” … and it all starts with that hook of an opening line. Robert had a headache, Heidi wasn’t very friendly and there was an alligator pit … now Robert has to make amends for his knee jerk reaction and it isn’t going to be easy.
Aside from the danger inherent to anything involving drugs, there’s the pragmatic Denise, who happens to be beautiful, great in bed and more hypnotic to Robert than any imaginable movie marquee featuring his name. Robert has a simple task at the start of his making amends to his agent … but the best laid plans often go awry and so it goes.
Kostoff starts in Miami and heads south down U.S. Highway 1 through the Keys to Key West and back and forth a few times in this adventurous romp of a thriller. Barry From West Palm (the Cain in the Cain-Able situation we later learn) is one scary dude. Fortunately for Robert he looks like Barry’s brother Carl (poor Able), but doing favors guarantees nothing in the world of drug dealing and sometimes gets you in deeper waters than taking a pass. There’s a lot going on in A Choice Of Nightmares, plots and subplots that keep the story moving at a fast clip. Kostoff has his own style and it is a polished one. His dialogue stands up to any in the business and his knowledge of the material goes above and beyond what you’ll find elsewhere. Curious about how cocaine is diluted into crack? You want to know what chemicals are used? I was entertained and schooled at every turn.
Kostoff is clearly one of the unsung heroes of modern crime fiction. The Long Fall, my first Kostoff read, was a brilliant piece of writing and remains one of my favorite reads to this day. A Choice Of Nightmares measures up quite nicely and more than does justice to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as well. A page-turning adventure from a novelist with a style the rest of us can only wish for. New Pulp Press has made a great choice in bringing back this Kostoff original.
And coming in July, 2010 … Lynn Kostoff’s new novel, Late Rain, will be published by Tyrus books. How I wish it were next summer already.
Speaking of nightmares … the boyo, Charles (not Charlie) called us from some beach in Maryland where he and his fiancé were vacationing this weekend with this opening line: “I fractured my spine.” The Principessa Ann Marie had answered the phone. All I heard was the gasp she made. Then I was up off the couch quick and she was already trying to reassure me it was okay. Turns out the kid (27 now) was on a boogie-board surfing and nearly crippled himself. He couldn’t get up or breath or walk. His fiancé made him go to the hospital and they X-rayed him and found a fracture. He’s okay and wearing a collar and should be recovered in a couple of weeks or so, but it was one of the moments that send a surge of rage through your body (any parent) … that bit of fear mixed with anger that it wasn’t you and/or there was nothing you could do to protect them. It was a very scary moment all of us dread and hopefully it will turn out okay.
Of course the next morning when I called to check on him, the little putz (6’3”) said, “I’m fine. We’re going surfing in a little while.”
Focking kids …
I drank myself to sleep last night ... then this morning, still feeling the rage, I did 18 reps with 255 ...
And the DOC says ...
Today the Bamster gave his watered-down version of the original speech to the students of America. He told them to wash their hands, study hard and don't shoot their teachers. In reading about this, I was surprised in just how few presidents had actually done this. I would have expected every president to give a little encouragement to our students. Of course when Papa Bush did this in 1991 he was investigated and the Congress wanted him to justify his wanton spending of the $27,000 spent to produce the speech. That must have been the "Good Old Days" I always hear about, when 27 grand was considered a lavish expenditure. The Bamster spends that on hor d'oeuvres every Wednesday.
The Bamster's bigger problem here is trust. Parents don't want him even talking to their children. This is a serious charge. You have to go pretty far down on the social food chain when people start telling you that they won't even allow you to talk to their children. The Bamster has become the weird, middle-aged, single guy who lives by himself and lets the neighborhood boys into his house to play video games, watch porn and have a few beers. This is as low as it gets. That "don't ever let me catch you even speaking to my kids" speech is usually delivered by a loud parent with veins popping out of his head, holding a bat. Sometimes the deployment of said bat is the preamble to the speech, sometimes it is the closer. The Bamster is now the guy nervously eyeing the bat.
Van Jones... what can you say. I've been fired before, but I was never fired at midnight Sunday of the Labor Day weekend. I guess the dems just wanted that to go away while people were recovering from the barbecue. Personally I would have preferred he remain one of the Gang of 50 Czars. It would have been easier to keep an eye on him. Mrs. Doubtfire (Gibbs) said he would still advise the administration, but he can't wear that cool furry hat that the other czars wear.
So, how was your weekend, Buckeroo