Cover image for Dirty Sally : a novel
Dirty Sally : a novel
Simon, Michael, 1963-
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Publication Information:
New York : Viking, [2004]

Physical Description:
260 pages ; 24 cm
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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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A New Yorker by birth, police detective Dan Reles fled to Texas at the age of fifteen when his father’s “friendship” with the mob turned sour. Now a member of Austin’s homicide unit, he’s the department’s only Yankee and its only Jew. Still reeling from his partner’s recent death, Reles is already on the edge and under scrutiny from internal affairs for his violent, erratic behavior. But when a beautiful young prostitute is found brutally murdered and other bodies start piling up in her wake, Reles must track down the culprit before Austin explodes. What he uncovers behind the sordid street crimes is an insidious path of financial intrigue that leads a bloody trail all the way up to Austin’s wealthy elite.Dirty Sallyis the explosive debut of a new series featuring Dan Reles as he searches for justice in the mansions and ghettos of corrupt, post-oil-bust Texas. From crack houses to the state capitol, Michael Simon does for 1980s Austin what James Ellroy did for 1950s Los Angeles. And after one taste of Dirty Sally, noir fans will be hungry for more.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Austin, Texas, 1988: homicide detective Dan Reles is grieving his dead partner, lusting after the partner's wife, and maintaining a tenuous hold on his temper and his job. Scouring the scene of an apparent traffic accident, he stumbles on a badly mutilated woman's body. All the identifying parts are missing, and when the killer starts delivering neatly packaged slices to local notables, the pressure is on Reles to find what the deliveryman wants. This is gripping, brutal stuff, with a freight-train plot that roars to a jump-the-tracks ending. If there is a slightly tired cop-needing-redemption strain, it's more than redeemed by the setting and themes. A New York Jew, Reles is an outsider in good-ol'-boy country, and he's also an angry observer of a city reeling from a crack epidemic, an oil bust, and the stock-market crash. Towering above the mess is a would-be president who wants public institutions to start making a profit for him and his pals. There's an echo of L.A. Quartet-era Ellroy in Simon's debut, and it's a welcome sound. --Keir Graff Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Three grisly deaths kick off Simon's fiction debut, a stylish noir thriller set in Austin, Tex., in 1988. A prostitute named Nikki, well past her glorious prime, is suffocated; politically active college student Rick Schate is crushed by a city bus; and stand-up cop Joey Velez dies in the line of duty. This last death is most significant to volatile protagonist Dan Reles, homicide detective and Joey Velez's best friend and partner. Reles went into an alcoholic tailspin after Joey's death, which led to suspension and then probation. Now someone is sending parts of Nikki's body (she's nicknamed Dirty Sally by police) to prominent local citizens, and the Schate fatality looks increasingly suspicious. Reles hopes to climb out of ignominy by cracking these two cases. Unfortunately, Sally's not the only dirty one: some of Reles's cop colleagues are crooked. Though the novel is anchored in Reles's brooding, yearning narrative, Simon challenges the reader with myriad sharp asides that seem unrelated but ultimately fit neatly together. Watching them fall into place is one of the chief pleasures of the book, along with Simon's lean sensual prose. This is a great read and promising series kickoff. Agent, Nat Sobel. (Aug.) Forecast: Praise from James Ellroy-"Dirty Sally is my kind of novel"-and a seven-city author tour should help get this strong debut off to a good start. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The time: September 1988. The place: crack-infested, post-oil boom Austin, TX. The crime: murder. Pieces of a prostitute are being sent to the town's leading businessmen, and other corpses are piling up. Investigating the crimes is Homicide Detective Dan Reles, a Yankee and a Jew resented by the good ole boys on his squad (a violent confrontation with one of them led to Reles's recent suspension). Still reeling from his partner's death, Reles must now prove himself and save his job by solving these crimes. Although his investigation leads straight to the upper echelons of Austin society, there are no happy endings in this noir world. While the villains are cardboard wicked, and the climax is over-the-top ludicrous, these flaws are compensated for by a strong narrative voice and the unique character of Reles. Mystery fans who enjoy the gritty urban crime dramas of George Pelecanos and James Ellroy will welcome this intense, if gory, debut. Simon, who worked as a probation officer in Austin, now lives in New York City. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/03.] Wilda Williams, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1 MONDAY A Mobster's Lackey September 12, 1988. 8:00 A.M. 4612 Avenue F I zero in on the three-on-the-tree gearshift on the steering column of Joey Velez's narco-white Chevy Caprice. I'm riding shotgun as Joey tears northwest on the mountain stretch of Route 2222 in the dark, the road twisting roller-coaster right and left, up a hundred feet in the air and straight back down, the car hanging on by a hair with Joey cackling at the wheel. "Joey." I try to focus my eyes. "I thought you were dead." "No, man," he laughs, throwing a wink in my direction. "Pretty near. Wake up, pally, we gotta see someone." I remember he drove off a cliff on a dark night in March. Then I remember it's March now. The Caprice streaks off the road, arcs into the air weightless as my stomach leaps and the car noses down. I jolted awake, kicking my feet, wheezing from another rerun of the Joey dream that's punctuated my half- sleep for the last six months. Wake up, it's just a dream. What difference would it make if I'd been with him that night? He would've flown off the cliff anyway and we'd both be dead. Or I could have woken him up. Or we would've taken a different road. I threw my arm over my eyes against the sunlight streaking through the venetians. "I'm leaving your father, I'm not leaving you. You understand that, don't you, honey?" I'm ten years old, standing in the doorway of my parents' bedroom in our apartment in Elmira, New York, watching her pack. "Don't you, honey?" My mother was a glamour gal in the early 1950s, a beautiful WASP with long, silky black hair, sparkling blue bedroom eyes, and at five-eight, a full two inches on my father. With heels and her hair up like a half- raunchy Audrey Hepburn, she towered over him in what I took to be the wedding picture, Dad a skinny immigrant's son, a scrappy street Yid in a borrowed suit. But with her on his arm he felt like Lucky Luciano, feeding her lies about his "connections" and showing her off at nightclubs he couldn't afford. By daylight he was just an ex-boxer who did favors, like the time I was eight and he went to prison for a deuce for one of the big boys. A mobster's lackey, she said. A nobody. The day they paroled him, she packed a suitcase and called a cab. "Where we goin', Ma?" I watched her at her makeup table, brushing mascara on her long eyelashes, framed in the mirror with me in the background, a dwarf stage-door johnny. When the taxi honked she kissed me on the cheek and walked out. In my dream, I'm always sitting alone at the bare kitchen table, trembling, waiting for him to come back from the big house with his forty dollars and his new suit. The doorknob turns. I have to tell him she's gone, and I don't know what he'll do. Maybe he'll kill me. I can still feel her kiss on my cheek, still hear her voice echo. "I'm leaving your father, I'm not leaving you." Watching from the window as the blue and white taxi drove off, I knew for the first time that I was completely alone. And that I always would be. Ring. Ring. Click. Tape rolling. "This is Dan. Go ahead." Beep. "Hello, Sergeant Reles? This is Martha Nell from Dispatch." Her voice twanged with tour-guide cheer. "Pick up, please." I killed the machine and worked up the spit to speak. "Yeah." "Did we wake you?" she said with a sympathy I save for widows and orphans. "Have I told you how good it is to have you back? You know you're on call." "No. Waller," I muttered. "I'm not even next." "Sergeant Waller got a call on Saturday, one o' those murder-suicides? Filled out the forms and got home by lunch. And I guess they changed the rotation with you back in action, because you're next on the list." Miles must have rigged it so I'd come up soon and win some points fast, coming off suspension. I opened my eyes. Sunlight hit my retinas and burned back to my ears. "No." "New case today. City bus knocked down a boy and dragged him down East Twelfth." "Vehicular deaths. Traffic Department." "Isn't that funny? That's just what Lieutenant Niederwald said you'd say!" I coughed something dead from the back of my throat. "Look, Martha Nell-" "He said to tell you Capital Metro anticipates a lawsuit, so they're claiming it was suicide." "Christ. Where is it?" "The ravine that cuts under the 700 block of East Twelfth, just west of Casa Rosa Apartments." "Any ID on the remains?" I sat up heavily and scratched. She'd already hung up. Excerpted from Dirty Sally by Michael Simon All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.