DIRTY SALLY (Viking), the full-throttle detective noir from onetime Austin probation officer MICHAEL SIMON, transforms Texas's famously laid-back capital city into a dank pit of crack, prostitution, and murder. This fictional walk on Austin's seamy side circa 1988 opens with Sergeant Dan Reles investigating a traffic accident on the east side and finding a headless, limbless torso beneath an underpass. The victim turns out to be a well-connected hooker whose sordid escapades the city's movers and shakers would rather keep under wraps. Reles pursues. The bad guys fight back. The body count is fearsome and the gore factor is gut-churning. Simon's writing crackles with smarts and throbs with suspense. There's nothing tentative about this explosive debut novel.

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