Guy Redding was a photographer trying to make ends meet. After a few years snapping photos of bad people doing bad things, he was practically a gumshoe. And when a beautiful naked blonde crossed his path, he suddenly had a very personal mystery to solve. With the entire LA police force—and his past—out to get him, Guy had exactly two days to find answers to the questions that matter most.
The Naked Dame is my homage to the great pulp-noir paperbacks of the early-to-mid 20th century, inspired by such writers as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, David Goodis, and Chester Himes. Like most of those writers, I wanted to set Dame in Los Angeles, in the wake of World War II, when a bleak pessimism was just setting in. Despite that, I wanted Guy Redding to have a smirky sense of humor and a strong voice. But I also wanted to explore the traditional noir persona and not hold back when it came to the resolution of the story. My hope is that the end of The Naked Dame packs a dark wallop.
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The Naked Dame is my first (self)-published novel and is available as an ebook from Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. On special request, it is also available as a self-printed paperback book through SimpleBind.
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Here’s the opening of The Naked Dame.
The Naked Dame
by Jason Bovberg
Saturday, July 11, 1953
The night the naked girl fell in my lap and raised all kinds of hell, I was planted on a stool at Pete’s, on the bleak southeast corner of 8th and Alvarado. It was just me and Pete, at the back end of a humid Tuesday night. Somewhere in the middle of a heat wave.
Next to my hat, there were three shot glasses lined up. One of them empty.
I dipped my finger in the middle glass, then lifted it and let the bourbon sting the back of my throat. I slapped the empty glass back to the bar. Pete looked over at me from the juke, damp towel slung over a beefy shoulder. He poked a button for a little more negro music, then returned to wiping tables.
I yanked the envelope from my breast pocket and let it fall to the bar. Two wrinkled hundreds poked from the top.
I just stared at them, let loose a sigh.
You know, it’s not like I ever planned to be some kind of gumshoe. I just started taking photos for people. And one thing led to another.
I’ve always enjoyed snapping pictures. My dad called them pitchers. He’d given me my first camera, in fact. As a kid, I’d had crazy dreams of taking pictures for a living. Yeah, I was doing that now, but in a very different way than a kid could ever imagine.
I don’t really know how I got all wrapped up in taking pictures of people doing bad things. And it wasn’t all that long ago that I started doing it. My name just started circulating, and before I knew it, it was on the lips of creeps and bastards looking to gain certain photographic advantage over other creeps and bastards.
I threw the third shot back, stared at the back of the bar. Above and to the left of the Jack Daniels bottle that had filled these three glasses was a small framed postcard of the California surf, all bright and sandy and perfect. For some reason, I found myself glancing at it often. It was the picture of L.A. that the tourists held firmly in their ridiculous brains. It was the image of this place that locals could still conjure in their recollections but was mostly lost like a faded dream.
Even as I stared at the picture with something like contempt, I tried to imagine the feel of sand under my feet. Down by the Santa Monica pier. Last time I’d felt that, I was a wide-eyed bushy-tailed kid with no idea how the world really worked. Back then, I was still taking pictures just for the fun of it, merely to capture the bits of beauty a guy might find out in the wide world.
I wiped my mouth clumsily.
After I got through with this job, maybe I’d glide on down to the beach and sit down for a few hours to watch the tide crash. Get lost out there.
In the big grimy mirror next to the little crooked postcard, a stranger stared back at me. The week-old beard and the dark, sunken eyes told me that the stranger had spent a little too much time lately on this very stool.
I take a job, I do what I’m paid to do. And those jobs involved more than just snapping photos now. How had that happened?
Jobs. Like the job that had brought me this cash. They come around now and then. I have no control over them. That’s the way it goes.
Boy, was I a piece of work, getting all riled up like this. There’s a lot of bastards out there, a lot of whores and no-goods and back-stabbers. Sometimes I felt like I’d become all four. So what? It was good money. Now was no time to suddenly develop a conscience.
Yeah, I couldn’t get her out of my head.
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