Written by Christa Faust –– Gina Moretti, aka Angel Dare, is a retired porn star who has since started her own agency, Daring Angels, for other girls in the biz. She helps them navigate the, er, ins and outs of an industry that can sometimes take advantage of the unwary and considers herself something of a protector of her girls. One day, Angel gets a call from an old friend, Sam Hammer, who she has worked with extensively in the past and trusts, to boot. He’s doing a shoot with handsome young up and comer Jesse Black and wants Angel to take the place of the girl that bailed on them. Angel isn’t really up for doing more work in front of the camera, but Sam is one of her oldest and dearest friends, and besides, it doesn’t hurt that Sam mentions that Jesse has a bit of a crush on Angel. She figures, what the hell, a decent payday and a box cover ego boost couldn’t hurt. She has no idea what hell is waiting for her at that ‘shoot’.
When she arrives at the mansion where the scene is to be filmed, she gets an odd feeling as soon as she walks in the door and when she’s soon tied down and repeatedly questioned about money and a girl named Zandora Dior, she thinks things can’t get much worse. Turns out they can. Raped and beaten to within an inch of her life, she’s thrown in the trunk of a car, shot, and left for dead.
Jesse Black must have been a terrible shot, because he only managed to land one bullet in the barrage that he fired at Angel before locking her in that trunk. Eventually, terrified and in pain, she escapes from the trunk and makes her way to a phone, where she calls her new security guy, Lalo Malloy. When Malloy finds her, Angel is a mess, and she needs stitches. When he finds out she’s called an ambulance, he lets her in on the news that if she goes to a hospital, she’ll be arrested for the murder of Sam Hammer. Just when she thought things couldn’t get worse…
I’ve had Money Shot sitting on the shelf for a while now, and having heard wonderful things about it, finally dug in. I really wished I hadn’t waited so long to get to this one. This is Christa Faust’s first title for Hard Case Crime and boy is it a doozy. Told in Angel’s voice, Money Shot is a look into a legitimate industry that can sometimes hide darker ventures, such as human trafficking. As Angel and Malloy follow the clues, and the trail of a girl called Zandora Dior, they’re led to the doorstep of some very bad people who consider human life to be very cheap, and disposable.
There’s a heartbreaking story here, and Faust doesn’t flinch in her telling, but it’s not gratuitous, and if anything, it’s a story that needs to be told, because it’s grounded very firmly in reality. In her portrayal of the porn industry, Faust is pragmatic and realistic without being seamy and actually treats her subject matter and characters with plenty of heart and compassion. Angel is one tough lady, but she also goes through a very real crisis of self when everything she loves is taken from her. Where do you go and what do you do when you have absolutely nothing left to lose? Angel will show you in this grim, dirty, and sometimes oddly endearing story. Angel’s story, incidentally, continues in Choke Hold, also from Hard Case Crime.
Hard Case Crime
CFL Rating: 5 Stars