Rowan Petty is a conman down on his luck. He's flat broke, living out of cheap hotels, and wondering how it all went wrong. His car quits on him in Reno, and he takes a job there on the bottom rung of a lousy phone scam. When he's not swindling lonely widows, he tries to turn nickels into dimes at the poker table.
One snowy night, he crosses paths with a sweet-talking hooker who's tired of the streets, and sparks fly. When an old friend of his turns up spreading a rumor about two million dollars in army money smuggled out of Afghanistan and stashed in an apartment in Los Angeles, it seems like a chance at the score of a lifetime. So Petty and the hooker head south, and straight into trouble.
A wounded vet, a washed-up actor, and Petty's estranged daughter are all players in the dangerous game they find themselves caught up in. For the winner: a fortune. For the loser: a bullet to the head. Propulsive, suspenseful, and written with a searing lyricism, The Smack shows once again that "Lange is a writer firing on all cylinders who belongs in the top tier of novelists working today" ( Omaha World-Herald).
Career con artist Rowan Petty has run out of luck in this gritty, poignant crime novel from Hammett Prize winner Lange (Angel Baby). Living out of a hotel in Reno, Nev., Petty is down to his last five grand and trying to stay afloat working various phone scams for chump change. When an older criminal colleague approaches Petty with a story he heard in prison about $2 million in stolen army money smuggled out of Afghanistan into L.A., Petty is just desperate enough to take the bait. Accompanied by a down-on-her-luck prostitute who calls herself Tinafey, Petty heads to California. Things get complicated and violent quickly, as Petty discovers that he isn't the only one looking for the stolen cash. Meanwhile, he makes contact with his estranged daughter, whose life has taken a difficult turn. Lange is a master at writing about characters on the margins of society and humanizing outcasts and misfits, and he manages to capture the surreal culture of Los Angeles in all its contradictory glory.