Book Review: Bad Luck City by Matt Phillips


Author: Matt Phillips

Publisher: Near To The Knuckle

Release Date: February 2016


Half-bored and all-the-way drunk, Las Vegas journalist Sim Palmer is unfulfilled in his job – covering the local entertainment scene for an alternative weekly newspaper. An unexpected phone call from a wilfully obscure underworld figure shakes Sim out of his middle-aged malaise, and reignites the flame that helped him earn his stripes as an investigative reporter. He is nudged in the direction of a dark case involving a missing girl, and the deeper he digs, the more it becomes apparent that the truth may be entwined with his late father’s hoodlum past. Suffice to say, there are more than just skeletons in this particular closet…

Last year, Matt Phillips demonstrated his desert noir credentials with Redbone (Number Thirteen Press), a murky, slow-burning slice of Americana. More immediate than its predecessor, Bad Luck City is a very different beast, but no less entertaining. In crime fiction, the notion of a dogged investigative journalist pursuing a hot lead into ominous territory is as well-worn as a crumpled fedora, or an ash-streaked suit, but the absorbing familial flashbacks give Bad Luck City extra resonance, and broaden the story’s scope.

UK crime fiction publisher Near To The Knuckle is very much on the ascendency, and this taut, sweaty little thriller represents a solid start to their planned ‘Knuckle-cracking Novellas’ series. Good stuff!

Reviewed by Tom Leins

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