"The Use of Landscape," by Robert Boswell, in Houston Noir, edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda, Akashic Press, 2019.
The publisher sent me an advance reader copy of this book.
I want to start by acknowledging the cleverness of editor Zepeda. These noir city books are always divided into three or four sections and the editor has to come up with names for them, which are often subtle or less subtle references to Crime, Money, Sex, etc. Here are the dividers Zepeda used: Desirable Locations With Private Security, Peaceful Hamlets Great For Families, Minutes From Downtown and Nightlife, and Up-and-Coming Areas Newly Revitalized.
And deep in Desirable Locations, Robert Boswell has offered us a charming story about sociopaths. Cole is the planner. We are told he loves no one. Doesn't care much about sex although he will use it to get what he wants, which is money. Not much interested in buying things with it; money is just a way of keeping score.
His girlfriend is Herta. They met when she tried to rob him. She says he will eventually try to kill her, but hey, she's not perfect either.
Tariq rounds out the crew. He's a bartender and an expert on cleaning crime scenes. Tariq has pointed Cole to a young woman, rich in money, poor in personality and brain power.
"Did I tell you what happened at Affirm today?" Madelyn asked. Affirm was her gym. She described the days activities in excruciating detail, a saga that lasted nearly twenty minutes. Summary: she exercised.
You will be mightily entertained as the trio the narrator calls the Criminal Element plot their nastiness while discussing women's underwear and the books of Virginia Woolf.