Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

CHOKE HOLD by Christa Faust

Choke Hold by Christa Faust is a follow up novel to her brilliant Money Shot. Both books feature ex-porn star Angel Dare as she’s caught up in high risk stakes against criminal elements that intend to see her dead.

The noir elements are played up really well in both books, and Angel Dare is one of those characters fans of the genre will want to see again and again. She’s sassy and brave and self-centered, not wanting to stick her neck out, but willing to for a friend. Or the son of a friend that might have been her son too if things had worked out differently.

Choke Hold opens up with a bang while Angel is working at a diner and gets caught up in events way beyond her control. The last time we saw her, she looked like she was going to have a safe life while in Witness Protection. That went out the window with a bang, and Faust brings us up to date with that when we need it, when there’s a lull in the action.

I fell in love with the cover, and I really hoped there would be more boxing or MMA action in the novel than there was. The lack of that kind of bummed me out a little, but the read was so tight and so compact that I really didn’t miss it that much.

Faust excels at writing these low-life characters barely hanging onto the edges of existence. I know these characters from the noir books I grew up reading and the noir films I found later. But I also know them as people I’ve seen around in my home town and in the urban areas where I’ve lived. Even though we only see these characters for a relatively short time (I read the novel in a single sitting), they speak to the reader who loves these knockaround guys.

Once Faust settles into the groove of her book, she never lets up off the accelerator. That’s what kept me nailed to the novel as I turned page after page. I had a general feeling that things were not going to turn out well (they don’t), but I couldn’t help but keep up with the chase. For the experienced noir reader, it’s kind of like watching a car wreck in slow motion. You know it’s going to happen, you don’t especially want it to happen, but there’s nothing you can do – except put the book down and walk away. Except that’s not going to be what you do.

Of the two, I preferred Money Shot more because it was more focused on Angel. Choke Hold covers a lot more territory, a lot more characters, and the darkness in the story seems heavier than in the previous novel. I hope Faust doesn’t keep us waiting too long on the next one.

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