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Dead Boys:

by Richard Lange

      This brilliant series of short stories captured me immediately, though I was somewhat skeptical. Dead Boys purported to be a series of stories about men living in the gritty, non-glamorous world of Los Angeles. I was terribly afraid it would be a book consisting of stories about men whose lives go terribly wrong, so they end up dead, alone, or in jail - and it's all misery. Dead Boys is not like that at all. In fact, there are stories in this book that end well for the characters.

What it is about, is the lives of men who start off at the bottom and either find their way out, or don't. It's unsentimental but not without heart. These are not men incapable of love. They are men who are all too human, and some of them love very deeply. Some of them are working hard to make that love work.

Some succeed and some fail.

A prime example of this is the story, "Bank of America." In this story. a man works as a house painter. He has a wife and a son, and he loves them so much he is doing everything he can to get them out of Los Angeles and into a better place, with a house, good schools, and a new beginning.

How is he going to do that painting houses? He isn't. He's going to do it by robbing banks. He and two other men have been robbing banks. One does the planning, the second handles the money. They have a plan to rob a series of banks, putting the money into Swiss bank accounts. When they've reached a certain amount for each, the accounts will be theirs, and they will all three walk away. They will never see each other again, and they will have their money to change their lives.

All the way through this story, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop: they're going to get caught; his wife will find out; his partners will burn him, and he won't get the money. I was wrong on all counts.

Not all of the stories end well. Just as in life, some make it, some don't. But the incredible thing about this book is that I cared about each and every one of the people in these stories. These men were human. Flawed, sometimes dangerous, but very human.

The book grabs you and doesn't let go for 256 pages. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Remember the name Richard Lange. If he lives up to half the promise he shows in this book, he's going to be one of the greats.

The Book

Little, Brown and Company
August 2007
0316017361 / 9780316017367
Adult Fiction / General
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The Reviewer

Sarah Bewley
Reviewed 2007
© 2006