Dead Heat is a masterful collection of East Bay, California stories that are structured along the same idea with two different results, both of them equally engaging, straightforward, pulpy and memorable. Both have protagonists who are tough, older guys who─at their cores─have not sacrificed their finer instincts to the cruel idiocies of the world. One of my favorite reads this year, his is a brief collection worth owning, and re-reading at a later date.
“Legacy”: Frank Trask, a gruff and well-liked alcoholic, is dying within ninety days. He spends his remaining time righting a neighborhood wrong, revisiting memories related to his murdered sister, and discovering small, pleasant truths about his life. This is a perfect of blend of waste-no-words tough-guy prose and warm humanity.
“The Creep”: Alan Baldocchi is horribly-scarred war vet living in a ghetto apartment, when he and his pretty downstairs neighbor [Susan Carnes] strike up a friendship. A local thug targets Susan, setting off a terrible, sad and violent chain of events. “Creep” is an ideal counterpart work to “Legacy,” for its equally short, sharp and tone-variable take on the tough guy protecting people from thugs theme.