Reviews > Published on October 14th, 2015

Bookshots: ‘Savage Lane’ By Jason Starr

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Savage Lane

Who Wrote It?

Starr hasn’t been this on point and focused since his twisted classics 'Cold Caller' and 'Twisted City'.

Internationally best-selling, award-winning crime novelist, Jason Starr.

Plot in a Box:

Suburban shitheel Mark Berman is getting a little bored (A little bored is a massive understatement. He actually kind of loathes her.) in his 22 year long relationship with his wife, Deb, and is being a sneaky little bastard and is trying to get in the pants of just about any woman who will give him the time of day. But he’s particularly interested in recent divorcee and neighbor, Karen. So, “interested” is a bit of a distortion, it's more like he's completely obsessed with her. Old trusty doormat Deb notices his abnormal amount of attention and murder and hilarity ensues!

Invent a new title for this book:

A Little Strange

Read this if you liked:

Pretty much anything by Patricia Highsmith.

Meet the book's lead(s):

Mark: Weird suburban dad looking for a little strange.

Deb: Mark’s equally weird wife.

Karen: Hot, recently divorced femme fatale and the target of Mark’s weird obsessions.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Mark: Steve Buscemi

Deb: Marisa Tomei if she chunked up 25 pounds

Karen: January Jones

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Bedford Hills, NY—I kind of already live in the west coast version of it, so yeah.

What was your favorite sentence?

Deb could have killed Karen. If they weren't in public, if it had just been the two of them, she wouldn’t have been able to stop herself. She would have attacked her, torn that skinny little home wrecker to pieces.

The Verdict:

So, crime writers—particularly those of you who identify as noir or hardboiled scribes—let’s talk a little about about the internet age for a minute, shall we? How many of you out there have a wee bit of difficulty writing about the modern world? You know, things like smart phones, social networks, and whatnot? Go ahead and raise your hands up high so i can see ‘em. Don’t be embarrassed, because a whole bunch of you aren’t exactly all that keen on even incorporating basic cell phones into your stories let alone websites/apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, and the dreaded laughing stock of modern marriage, Ashley Madison. Seriously, it’s okay that you’re a little technophobic, I imagine eventually you’ll come around and figure out that you can probably craft some fairly interesting stories using social media as your primary narrative device.

Now I won’t say Jason Starr’s 16th novel (and his first from Polis Books) entirely incorporates social media into the storyline, but he at the very least acknowledges its existence and finds a way to using it as a narrative device, particularly when it comes to dating websites and the various digital masks people don—especially those who are married or in a longterm relationship—in order to get deep into a little strange.

Now that I have that little tangent out of my system, I’ll move on and flat out tell you that if you’re a fan of blacker than graveyard dirt noir, Savage Lane is going to be right up your alley, and is a welcome return to form for Starr after his so-so flirtation with werewolves. In my opinion, Starr is a born crime writer and a true student of the darker aspects of human nature. His strongest gift as a novelist is delving into the nooks and crannies of his characters and crafting them into recognizable, relatable people. But what really sets Starr apart from his contemporaries is how easily he creates unreliable narrators. The bulk of his protagonists are natural born liars and are so adept at it they even fool themselves into believing their own lies.

If you’re a first time reader of Starr’s work, Savage Lane is going to be a great jumping off point for you because the overall flow of the narrative allows it to be read in one sitting. Now for longtime readers, Starr really hasn’t been this on point and focused since his twisted classics Cold Caller and Twisted City (which in my mind still ranks one the most disturbing crime novels of the last 30 years) first made the scene. Long story short, Savage Lane is a fun, darkly humorous ride that you’re going to want to take.

About the author

Keith Rawson is a little-known pulp writer whose short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, and interviews have been widely published both online and in print. He is the author of the short story collection The Chaos We Know (SnubNose Press)and Co-Editor of the anthology Crime Factory: The First Shift. He lives in Southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.

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