Very occasionally, you come across books that fit your interests so very perfectly that it’s almost like the author had you in mind when they wrote it. That’s pretty much the experience I had when I first heard mention of Christ Fausts’s Hoodtown, a novel in the hard-boiled tradition that’s set in a ghetto where the predominant culture has been heavily influenced by masked Lucha Libre traditions. It’s a world where people swear by El Santo, where a serial killer horrifies a community by stealing the masks of his victims, and where the hero is a burnt-out old rudo named X whose been trying to live up to the mistakes of her past.
Seriously, people. Noir and Mexican masked wrestlers. The only way this book could have been more my thing is if it came personally autographed, made me nachos every time I started reading it, and offered to bring back WCW so we could kickstart the Monday Night Wars. I’m still pissed we haven’t seen a follow-up, even if I’ve been a huge fan of everything else Faust’s done since Hoodtown was released in 2011.
There’s an air of authenticity to the way Faust tackles both the hardboiled and the lucha elements in her book, and it’s telling that she lists being a pro-wrestling valet among the many jobs she’s held in her life (along with being a fetish model and professional dominatrix).
And there’s no doubting her love of the hardboiled genre: her yearly blogging of the Noir CityFilm Festival is a high-light I look forward to every twelve month, and if you’re a fan of old moves or vintage style, Faust is definitely worth following on twitter and facebook for the commentary she posts there.
But the real gem of Faust’s output are the books, which consistently seem to blend the Hardboiled elements with a new world. Hoodtown stands on its own, but her output includes Money Shot (Hardboiled and the porn industry), Choke Hold (noir boxing tropes fused with MMA), and her new line of Butch Fatale novellas (hardboiled lesbian detective novels with – lets be clear about this – a fair amount of explicit sex).
Faust’s a writer who has an instinctive grasp of the genres she loves and a real talent for language and voice. She was the first woman to write for the Hard Case Crime imprint in the US and Money Shot remains one of the best books I’ve seen said imprint release. She’s the woman behind a bunch of tie-in novels as well, from Fringe novelisations to Snakes on a Plane, which are frequently more entertaining than the source material.
Most importantly, though, it’s a good time to become a Faust fan. When I first started encountering her short story work, back in the late nineties when she was dabbling in the horror side of things and co-writing things with Caitlin Kiernan and Poppy Z Brite, finding one of Faust’s novels was an uphill battle. You’d get glimpses of her work in years bests collections, short stories that always seemed to understand the connection between the dark and the erotic, but she was a damn hard writer to track down more.
The internet has now made finding her work easier, and opened up opportunities for Faust to do the kind of work she loves. The Butch Fatale series is self-published work, along with a number of her earlier novels (I’m itching to read Control Freak, which was one of the great unfindable novels of the nineties) and shorter noir stories she’s published herself. You can glut yourself on Faust’s work with relative ease, and I frequently do.
She’s just that damned good.
Why in hell aren’t you reading her?