Shooters by Terrill Lankford – review

shooters terrill lankfordShooters is complete trash. It’s smutty, sleazy, violent, obvious, and unnecessarily slick. It’s the 90s as crime fiction. Simply put, it’s everything that I love about this book.

In the interest of being completely candid, I love the 90s. I love the lack of substance and the over the top need for everything to be impossibly “cool”. All of that garbage makes me unapologetically biased and nostalgic.

Shooters is the story of hit photographer and self-made man Nick Gardner. He lives the L.A. life – (as depicted in every movie set in L.A. in the 1990s) hot girls, fast cars, a hedonistic life with no consequences. Nick is cool as ice. No emotional attachments or investments – he cares about his job and having a good time. He’s living the “good life”. One night he agrees to go a party against his better judgement and ends up taking one of the party-goers home with him. After a long night of drugs and debauchery Nick wakes up to find her gone. Hours later she turns up, dead, in the dumpster next to his place. His “good life” is coming to an end. He becomes the prime suspect in the investigation. The more Nick’s past comes to light the worse his situation gets. Realizing that he has no one to help clear his name he takes it upon himself to solve her murder. Unfortunately for Nick that means revisiting the seedy underworld of pornography that was part and parcel of his old life.

Pretty straight forward. Man wrongly accused must clear his name. It’s been done to death. In the case of Shooters though it’s an old standard coated with the sticky veneer of the 90s. As stated above, my undying love of an extraordinarily corny decade colours my enjoyment of this book where it might not for others.

My only complaint (and this is 100% on me) is that I can’t help but picture Nick Gardner as a younger, less racist looking* Karl Lagerfeld. I know that this is not really a complaint about the book as much as it is a reflection of own stupidity but regardless, the outcome was that I couldn’t sympathise with the character as much as otherwise would have. No one who looks as stupid as Karl Lagerfeld should be taken seriously. My mental image of Nick was that he was pathetic not to the point of hopeless desperation, just to the point of being a petulant asshole berating a Starbucks employee for not using soy milk in his latte. Once again, all on me.

This book delivers on everything the blurb promised. It was fun. I had a good time. Is this the greatest achievement of 90s noir? Probably not but I got my money’s worth that’s for sure. If you ever want to take a break from watching The Crow on VHS or listening to The Downward Spiral on your Walkman then I’d definitely recommend picking up a copy of Shooters.

*For the record I don’t think Karl Lagerfeld is a racist. I just think he looks like he could be tailor to a modern SS.


This is a part of the 200 noirs project. An attempt to read and review every book on Allan Guthrie’s Top 200 Noirs list. You can follow him on Twitter @200Noirs

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