5th and Vanguard is set among the atmospheric grit of a seaside town called Berle, and narrated by Julie Page; a writer who, when we’re introduced, suffers from a suffocating lack of artistic inspiration. But inspiration makes a guest-appearance one particularly windy night at the corner of 5th and Vanguard in front of the squinting florescence of Bob’s Liquor Palace as a glamorous, disfigured, old woman emerges from the backseat of a black Cadillac, and alters Julie’s perspective irreversibly.
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Lee Adams’ debut novel delivers all of the broken concrete and burnt-out neon of the most memorable noir fiction, but also offers a fresh dose of humor and introspection missing from more traditional fair. This darkly comic mystery explores the pock-marked inner and outer worlds of its heroine as she faces her deadliest fears in an effort to recover her muse. 5th and Vanguard is a story of chemical, emotional, and artistic addiction, and the price one must be willing to pay to stay inspired.
“This is noir fiction at its best: gritty, witty, and hard to put down. 5th and Vanguard is destined for cult status.”
~ Todd Robbins, author of The Modern Con Man
and star of American Carny
Maxine Montego reanimated my imagination like
heaven’s alarm clock at the end of a dark sleep. She
was a peep show offering everything that made me
breathe hard: pain, loss, regret, greasy characters,
seedy deals, and an irresistible talent. She teased me
till all my nickels were gone. She was caffeine. Benzedrine.
A mythological speedball coursing through
my ready veins. And danger played no small part
in my nearly libidinous need to pry into the warped
vinyl of this singer’s life.