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Richard Wills
Author, Illustrator
77th and Broadway: A Decade in a World of Crime

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

What if a small-time hustler finds his dream job, getting paid to keep crooks in business? That’s exactly what happens in 77th and Broadway: A Decade in a World of Crime when Richie Smooth is hired to help a struggling LA bail bondsman, who breaks all the rules, salvage his failing business. This crime noir pulp fiction is set in the mid 70’s through the mid 80’s in South Central Los Angeles prior to the advent of crack cocaine. The book interweaves 25 true-event crime stories into one roller coaster ride entailing unscrupulous treacherous characters whose lives illuminate issues of social injustice, corruption, betrayal, power and punishment. While the story unfolds into a world of ineffable criminal activity, unwelcome acquaintances from the past appear; this, along with a sweeping crime wave and a crack cocaine epidemic, all threatens the total existence of the bail bondsman and the people he loves.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.25 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: This uniquely structured work of noir fiction is comprised of a sequence of events, some of them interrelated. While the individual works provide little true resolution, this is in keeping with the novel's subject matter and basis in true events. 

Prose/Style: The individual vignettes presented in this novel are eminently readable and collectively affecting.

Originality: The novel's central focus on bail bondmen in a distinctive time period in Los Angeles is highly original, as is its piecemeal structure and integration of true crime.

Character Development: The two primary bail bondsmen, Wilbert Lee Buck, and Richie V. Smooth, are smartly developed. The clients are somewhat stereotypical, while female characters are viewed through the unfortunately prejudicial--if historically authentic--viewpoints of male characters.

Date Submitted: August 30, 2019

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