Hard Case Crime 10/04: Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas (#4)

Little Girl LOST

Miranda Sugarman was supposed to be in the Midwest, working as an eye doctor. So how did she wind up dead on the roof of New York’s seediest strip club?

Little Girl LOST

Ten years earlier, Miranda had been P.I. John Blake’s girlfriend. Now he must uncover her secret life as a strip tease queen. But the deeper he digs, the deadlier the danger…until a shattering face-off in an East Village tenement changes his life forever.

This is my second read of Little Girl Lost, and it’s a testament to what an assured debut it is that I still found it gripping despite already knowing a lot of the twists and turns (not all–my lousy memory always ensures some surprises).

Richard Aleas (a pseudonym for Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai) in nearly every way delivers exactly what I’m looking for when I think to myself, “I’d like to read a crime novel!”–manageable length with nary a wasted word; a universe filled with criminals, losers, and sleazebags; just the right amount of sex and violence; and a thrilling conclusion. Take away the cell phones and the computers, and Little Girl Lost could have been one of the finer books published by Gold Medal back in the Golden Age.

Little Girl Lost is not perfect. Our protagonist, P.I. John Blake, makes a couple of really boneheaded mistakes that could be ascribed to his young age but are more likely because Aleas needed an easy way to advance the plot. And the stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold character isn’t any less clichéd than her hooker equivalent.

But those quibbles are minor in the scheme of things–even the clichéd stripper manages to be an interesting character. Little Girl Lost is edge-of-your-seat reading, and likely just what you’re looking for in a crime novel as well.

Trivia: Little Girl Lost mentions A Sound of Different Drums. This is a title used in several Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block novels (and some by others), usually as a fictional film. In Little Girl Lost, it’s “the latest Chow Yun Fat import, a film whose two-character Chinese title was translated as A Sound of Distant Drums.”

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Hard Case Crime 7/07: Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas (#33)

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