Lange’s novel, This Wicked World, is a potboiler set in the dog-fighting and small-time hoodlum subcultures of L.A. and its exurbs. The book follows in the stylistic and thematic wakes of such recent SoCal detective noirs as Kem Nunn’s excellent Tijuana Straits and Don Winslow’s Dawn Patrol (whose protagonist, like This Wicked’s, is named Boone — must be something in the smog). Lange, like his predecessors, hones in on a literary landscape where even the most humble immigrants’ dreams come to die brutally under a relentless sun, and where badass white boys assume the burden of atonement with the help of their rainbow-coalition sidekicks. While This Wicked World is definitely a page turner that gets under your skin, it’s more entertainment than art. Lange was keenly aware of the difference when writing it.
“It’s a lot different. It’s a lot harder. The [short] stories are kind of natural and organic,” he says. “This one, you’re hitting beats, because it has a plot. So, suddenly I’m writing to hit these beats and it’s really super hard, a hard experience.”
Lange says he’ll follow up his novel with another set of stories, but he won’t be revisiting any of the characters from Dead Boys. He won’t have to. This is, after all, Los Angeles.
“I can take a walk down the street and come up with a story. One day, I can get a story out of a trip to here, just by looking around and combining it with things I know. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas where I need to go back,” he says. “I love this city. When I moved here when I was 17, I said, ‘This is my place.’ ... It suits me perfectly.”