Friday, November 16, 2012

Review of Money Shot by Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime, 2008)

Angel Dare spent ten years in front of the camera in the porn industry in LA before setting up her own adult modelling agency, Daring Angels.  When she’s rung up by a long time friend and asked to do a scene at short notice with a rising male star almost half her age she agrees to step in front of the camera for one last time.  Only things don’t go to plan when she arrives, with her being beaten, raped, thrown in the trunk of a car and shot.  Left for dead she manages to escape only to find she’s the main suspect in a murder investigation.  Rather than handing herself in, she decides to seek vengeance against those who have framed her, joining forces with an ex-cop turned security guard.  Her attackers might have gotten the better of her when she was unawares, but as a woman wronged she’s a different proposition, prepared to enact her own brand of justice.

In Money Shot Christa Faust pulls few punches; the story is noir to its core.  Set in the porn industry the narrative could have slipped into a moral sermon of sorts or sensationalism, instead Faust portrays the various aspects of the trade in a matter of fact way, including some of its criminal elements such as sex trafficking.  The telling is engaging, with a strong voice and a quick pace.  The characterisation is a little thin beyond Angel Dare, but this is very much her story and she’s a complex lead character: vulnerable and resilient, worldly-wise and naive, forward but self-conscious.  The plot is relatively straightforward with a couple of nice tension moments and the ending is pure noir.  The only thing that didn’t quite sit right was the set-up: the person who is meant to kill her is totally inept and given her own treatment and injuries going on the run rather than to the police didn’t seem to add up and it felt like a plot device.  Other than that, Money Shot was bang on the money. 

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