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A policeman and a young girl drive across the Mojave Desert toward a deathly quiet valley where the girl's mother waits. In a wealthy Los Angeles enclave, another man waits for news of the policeman's death. Cop John Victor Sully is in the wrong place at the wrong time, ready to convict the right man of the right crime--and that, for crooked developer Burgess Ridden and his heroin-addict girlfriend Dee Storey, will never do. Burgess may not have the guts or the smarts to save himself from impending disaster, but Dee will do anything, including making her 13-year-old daughter, Shay, an accessory to murder: "Like face cards their images resemble, flat and stoic on that black gaming table of a windshield. Two queens, baby. One there, and one on the come. If she lives long enough."

But the best-laid plans are those that go hideously awry. Sully survives that night in the desert, clawing up through the dirt of a shallow grave, only to become "a boundary walker trapped inside the self of past." His reputation ruined by a clever frame-up, he will spend the next 10 years in self-imposed exile until a journalist named Landshark brings him back to L.A. to clear his name. His return touches off a deadly "blood waltz across reality" in which lives count for nothing and survival is everything--and in which his only ally is the young woman who led him to his death a decade earlier.

Boston Teran stunned critics with his debut novel, God Is a Bullet. Most raved about its explosive prose and in-your-face action, though a few felt that the author's style was a bit too much of a good thing. Teran is admittedly a writer for whom excess is glorious and for whom language is a wondrous, near-tangible commodity. His second novel, however, reveals a definite maturation: if God Is a Bullet reveled perhaps a bit too much in its own linguistic conceit, Never Count Out the Dead never allows the brilliance of its language to cast all else into shadow. Taut rather than bloated, the novel is as edgy as a hollow-eyed junkie and as extravagant as a drift of desert orchids. Teran retakes the stage with the assurance of an elegantly seasoned performer.--Kelly Flynn

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ISBN-10:  0312271158
ISBN-13:  978-0312271152
Author:  Boston Teran
Publisher:  St. Martin's Minotaur
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review by . July 07, 2001
"Never Count Out the Dead" is a black-hearted joy ride set in a corrupt, culturally and morally dead L.A. that out-Chandler's Chandler. It's "Pulp Fiction" crossed with Albert Camus as directed by John Woo. In crime fiction, Teren is riding shotgun with James Ellroy in a `66 jet-black Fastback at night somewhere beyond Barstow, these two lost boys driving on a river of concrete, like Huck and Jim, toward their collective hearts of darkness. And if you think that's a little out there, you have some …
Never Count Out the Dead
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