Jake and his pal Bud’s journey begins six months after he is released on parole and is occasioned when his girlfriend Donna dumps him and aborts their child. After a suicide attempt where the Norelco shaver cord he used to hang himself breaks, on an impulse—everything in Jake’s life happens “just like that”—he calls up Bud, who lives by the same credo, and the two take off with no particular destination in mind. They’re just going “south”—somewhere where it’s warm. An hour before they leave, Jake on another impulse, holds up a convenience store to get some traveling money. Ultimately, they end up in New Orleans and then Lake Charles, Louisiana and from there, back to Indiana.
Along the way are many “watercooler” moments and near the end Jake takes a fall when he is caught burglarizing a bar back in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, gets shot in the leg and is returned to Pendleton where he kills the inmate he had a nasty encounter with during his first stay in prison.
Just Like That is based on an actual trip the author took with an ex-prison cellmate under similar circumstances as protagonist Jake Mayes does in the narrative. The scenes in Pendleton are also based on true experiences he had while incarcerated. Approximately 85% of the novel is taken from real life. Portions of the book have previously appeared as short stories in the literary magazines Murdaland, Flatmancrooked, and High Plains Literary Review, the latter of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was selected for inclusion in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Mystery Stories, 2001.
Praise for JUST LIKE THAT:
“Edgerton’s got a story to tell you so get ready; it’s coming at you fast. Get ready…” —Linwood Barclay, international bestseller
“Edgerton draws memorable portraits of these dangerous and unpredictable characters.” —Library Journal
“Just Like That is yet another Les Edgerton winner. In his prison memoir, Edgerton conjures up in honest, Bukowski-esque prose a mad dog life lived behind and beyond the bars of institutional correctional facilities. Literature’s version of Johnny Cash, America has yet another gifted bard to sing the blues of time served. I have long believed Edgerton to be an American original, who has for too long remained one of our best kept literary secrets.” —Cortright McMeel, author of Short
“Just Like That has it all. Great dialogue, whipcrack scenes and meaty characters haul you along on a hardboiled crime road-trip worthy of the Elmore Leonard and Joe R Lansdale. A shot to the heart as well as the head, Just Like That is highly recommended.” —Paul D. Brazill, author of A Case of Noir
“Edgerton establishes the kind convincing, and wrenching, interiority with his characters achieved by only the most adept fiction writers.” —Peter Donahue, Sam Houston State University
“Edgerton’s best stories are uncompromising in their casual amorality. They stare you down over the barrel of a gun, rip you up whether or not the trigger gets squeezed.” —Diane Lefer, UCLA and Vermont College, author of The Circles I Move In
“Les Edgerton creates a vivid and compelling world. We feel the rhythm of his language and live in the skins of his characters. Altogether, a memorable experience.” —Gladys Swan, Missouri University and Vermont College, author of A Visit to Stranger
“Les Edgerton writes like a poet with a mean streak, and his prose goes down easy and smooth like good liquor as it carves up your insides.” —Henry Perez, bestselling author of Mourn the Living
The characters in Edgerton’s world bite down hard and grind up one another with their back teeth. Their authenticity is palpable as soft-shelled clams; these are sad, mean, fully human characters who long for connection almost as fiercely as they fear it.” —Melody Henion Stevenson, author of The Life Stone of Singing Bird