Rookie novelist Clancy Martin displays a veteran’s savvy when he grabs the reader on the opening page of How to Sell: “The first time I considered jewelry was the morning I stole my mother’s wedding ring. It was white gold. A hundred-year-old Art Nouveau band with eleven diamonds.” From there, Martin never lets you go with this sordid tale of Bobby Clark, an amoral sixteen-year-old summoned by his older brother, Jim, to leave their Calgary hometown to work at the Fort Worth Deluxe Diamond Exchange. Jim gives him a job, a place to stay, and a nasty cocaine habit; Bobby returns the favor by stealing jewelry, petty cash, and Jim’s girlfriend, Lisa. He eagerly sheds his youthful innocence like a snakeskin and wraps himself in a hustler’s lifestyle awash in glitz and swindles—the dark side of the American dream. How to Sell’s juxtaposition of beautiful objects against ugly behaviors is strangely exhilarating and chilling all at once. And if Martin speaks true about the seamier side of the jewelry business, he will forever change the way you buy bling. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24