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Two books this week one, CLIMB A BROKEN LADDER, recommended by James Reasoner here and B-GIRL by the same author and mentioned by James in the post. One lead me to the other.

In B-GIRL, the girl of the title is Irene Molloy, a young woman who had had dreams of being a singer since she was very young. As the novel opens, Irene wakens in a hospital room and, as we get into the story, we find she’s been beaten.

The first half of the novel is told in flashbacks with short sections of Irene in the hospital room. We don’t know exactly what has happened as the picture is filled in.

At a dance she attends with an old boyfriend, a former high school quarterback, she catches the eye of the trumpet player, Charles Duval, “Chuck,” and he has asks for a dance. We get our first clue here as he seems inordinately pleased that he aces out an athlete, the young man storming out.

They hook up and she mentions her dream, he urging her to sing for him. She ends up joining the band as they head out on a short tour. It’s a small combo and the tour goes to towns surrounding home base(Seattle as in the other novel, which leads me to figure Novak probably lived there).

That’s how it begins and the relationship between Irene and Chuck develops into that of abuser and apologist. As an attractive singer Irene is hit on all the time and it never seems to bother Chuck until another young athlete makes a try at her. That leads to a physical beating of Chuck even when the young man tries to walk away, the trumpet player jumping him from behind. Chuck ends up with a shredded lip, a broken tooth, and apparently the end of his career.

Things spiral down from there.

Novak throws a few twists in as the tale moves along, fooling me on where he was headed more than once. I enjoyed the book and, as James mentions, these two were apparently the only books he had published.

Too bad.