Review: Fierce Bitches by Jedidiah Ayres

Anybody who read my recent review of Ayres’ collection A F*ckload of Shorts will know I thought highly of it. And rumblings on the crime fiction grapevine suggested that his latest, Fierce Bitches, was a cracker. Reviews were exceptional right across the board. So I made sure to grab a paperback copy the moment it became available.

Fierce Bitches involves a small town, or more a collection of buildings really, called Politoburg, in the middle of nowhere in Mexico that belongs to Harlan Polito, a crime boss. The population of this town consists of Mexican whores (the Marias), gringos who work for Polito (sent out-of-the-way, to be called on when the boss needs them), and Ramon who runs the place by keeping gringos in line – making sure they don’t hurt the girls, keeping them supplied with booze, drugs etc, and breaking heads when needs be. Everything runs smoothly, or as smoothly as a town that consists of criminals can, until a robbery of a delivery occurs, leaving people dead and Ramon severely injured. In the aftermath of the robbery one of the Marias escapes with a nameless gringo and suddenly everything goes to hell…

It’s hard to know how to classify Fierce Bitches. It’s not strictly crime fiction, although crimes obviously occur during it (lots of them, in fact), I suppose you could call it noir, it’s certainly bleak enough, but even that doesn’t seem quite appropriate. It has many elements in the mix, but the best way to describe it would be as a cross between the hellish El Rey finale of Jim Thompson’s The Getaway and the biblical fury of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. One thing is for certain, it has an ambition that most modern noir novels will probably never come close to emulating. For a start, the use of language is certainly superior to many writers currently working in this field. Second-person narration is notoriously difficult to get right but Ayres absolutely nails it here. Also, the fractured timeline mode of storytelling is another skill that’s not easy to nail, but again Ayres manages it with aplomb. It’s an exceptional bit of writing that, despite only being novella length, feels much weightier than its page count and has certainly marked Ayres as someone who will probably rise to the top of the current crop of crime/noir writers sooner rather than later. I can see this being in my top ten or top five or whatever the fuck it ends up being at the end of the year.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Fierce Bitches by Jedidiah Ayres

  1. Pingback: Review: Sacrifices by Roger Smith | The Gamblers

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