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I hadn't heard of Daniel Depp when I came across this in the library but it sounded interesting enough for a crime thriller fan. Unfortunately, it just didn't have that readability factor for me or the depth of characters and plot to keep me hanging on each sentence.
The front cover reads: 'The only winners are the ones who survive" on the cover, along with 'A stunner of a thriller' - The Independent On Sunday. This intrigued me, seeing a good review. The tagline on the back cover read 'playing by the rules can be murder', and the blurb gave it a modern day American crime thriller appeal.
Loser's town introduces us to David Spandau; previously a stunt guy, Spandau became an LA detective who was hired by proxy to help out Bobby Dye, a Hollywood starlet who's run into some trouble. From what Dye tells him, it seems like a stalker is on his trail, but it doesn't seem that straightforward and Spandau can sense it from a mile off. But Dye is aloof and his agents help distance the two men, so it's upto Dye to ask for help & keep Spandau on his side. I won't say anymore really on the plot, except to say that a few dead bodies turn up and Dye's involvement is questioned, but can Spandau fit the pieces together to work out what's happening?
The characters are quite vivid, including Spandau, Stella (a friend turned enemy of Bobby's), Annie (who works for Dye), and Potts (a fairly random guy who removes a dead girl's body from a house in the first chapter). Whilst there is some sympathy drawn from the reader, probably more so in terms of the seemingly bad guy Potts, the characters still seem to lack depth and warmth, resulting in a web of people you can't fully identify or empathise with. I wasn't left wanting to read more about anybody in particular as no one really stood out to me in the right ways.
There was lots of swearing. Yes, it's Hollywood, and yes it's full of up-their-own-bums stars and wannabies, and yet the language just seemed too colourful too often in a way that got a little irritating (and that's coming from me, who utilizes swearing probably too often). It seemed like Depp wanted to make a statement, wanted to make the novel modern and up-to-date, aggressive, but couldn't quite do it in the subtle way that gets under your skin.
The content and context can be partly explained by the author's history. In the 'about the author' bit at the beginning we're told that Depp used to be a film producer & screenwriter, and furthermore that Loser's town was his first novel. This would give the backdrop of the characters and plot, and Depp does have some inside knowledge to bring to the mix to give a certain atmosphere and scene. Nonetheless, it wasn't quite all there for me, in the sense that it felt hollow somehow; the lack of character depth and none-too-interesting plot and crime thriller aspects made the novel less intriguing and gripping.
At the back of the book is a snippet of 2 chapters from an upcoming book starring Spandau, but unfortunately, I can't say that I'm altogether too interested in reading it. Loser's Town was an ok read, so-so, but it's not really one I would recommend for getting your teeth into.
339 pages over 23 chapters