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The Low Desert

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  24 reviews
With gimlet-eyed cool and razor-sharp wit, these spare, stylish stories from a master of modern crime fiction assemble a world of gangsters and con men, of do-gooders breaking bad and those caught in the crossfire. The uncle of an FBI agent spends his life as sheriff in different cities, living too close to the violent acts of men; a cocktail waitress moves through several ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 2nd 2021 by Counterpoint
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Average rating 4.56  · 
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 ·  66 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Aptly titled, Goldberg's The Low Desert takes us to the empty world out past Palm Springs, a world of lonely roads, forgotten buildings, abandoned lives, and dead inland seas. It's the edge of the universe, a place where bitter wounded folks come to lay down and rot away. There's not much out here, but abandoned dreams, epitomized by the developments that were started and never finished around the Salton Sea, an inland riviera where nothing lives. It's a place where you go when you're at the end ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Short stories that are tough, gritty and hardcore. Stories of gangsters, cons, gamblers, murderers et. al. Each story does well as a well rounded standalone. If you like stories about the underground life in Vegas, California, Arizona this is a good read for you of true gangster stories.
Paul Ataua
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Ignore the mystery thriller tab from the publishers, and the talk of gangsters, crime, and noir that fill the reviews. There are some crimes and some criminals and even some gangsters, but this is a collection of stories that is mostly about unhappy people desperately struggling to make sense of their broken lives set against the bleak backdrop of the Low Desert in California. It is no accident that some of the stories take place in on near a once promising resort complex investment on the edge ...more
Andreas Tornberg
Fun, gritty and so well written. This book reminded me of Broken by Don Winslow. Highly recommended.
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Come on universe, I need an ARC!
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“Raymond Carver meets Elmore Leonard...,” said The New York Times of this collection of mostly connected (pardon the pun) gangster desert stories, and it wasn’t wrong.

Think Palm Springs, Vegas, the Salton Sea and so many haunted locales in between. Think cunning gangsters, Chicago mob families, hardened cops, and a-snap-your-heart-in-two story about a missing child and the desperate mother/cocktail waitress she left behind that moves throughout the collection for an incredibly satisfying, if tr
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mcn
1/26/2020 4,5 stars. Really terrific. Full review tk at ...more
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Remembering “the ghosts of another life”: Dark Disturbances in a Deadly Desertscape

“The desert covers everything in these parts in a fine dust the color of dried marrow.”

* * *

A dozen gritty, bleakly-humorous, and unexpected shorter tales comprise Tod Goldberg’s latest, The Low Desert: Gangster Stories. I should add that this is my first reading of any of Goldberg’s work, although these pieces connect to his Gangster Nation and Gangsterland work, too. In The Low Desert, we find compelling stories
John Rumery
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bleak. Grim. If you are looking for a hero's journey in these stories...fugedaboutit. Wiseguys , grifters, losers. Kind of like the Trump administration.

There were a couple of characters you rooted for, especially the sheriff who was featured in three stories (very nice story arc btw) but for the most part the cast of these stories were just sad.

All the stories were very written and well paced. Overall a real solid selection as long as you don't mind the relentless dark themes.
Patricia Lynn Forg
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a 24 hour read, and already a contender for my favorite book of 2021. Rich, funny, emotional, and unforgettable.

It's not a feel good book. It doesn't give one any sense of hope. But it's remarkable.

It's going to be a book I revisit sooner rather than later.
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Brutal. Poignant. Just a masterful collection.
This a a great collection of (mostly) Coachella Valley-based short stories. Several are connected to others, tied together with the same characters or the same crime organization. Most take place at least partly in the Coachella Valley, where it isv ery hot. Coachella Valley blinding sunshine hot. Salton Sea stinky hot. And while these are solid crime stories, they also explore grief and regret, aging and moving on, remembering different times in the same place. Several of them are quite heartbr ...more
Sean Morrison
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I hadn't read any of the author's other work, so I came into this blind. I really loved it, read it all in a day and a half.

I'll be going back to read the other gangsterland stuff now.
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unforgettable characters, dangerous dudes, hilarious insights. Welcome to the warped mind of Tod Goldberg. The Low Desert bridges his Las Vegas gangster novels Gangsterland and Gangster Nation with the literary crime stories in his collection Other Desert Cities. While the banter crackles like Elmore Leonard, Goldberg has a lyrical edge, like David Goodis. Goldberg can convince you that a place is terrible (i.e. Las Vegas, the Salton Sea) but at the same time create a yearning to go there, and s ...more
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Low Desert by Tod Goldberg is a collection of noir short stories that are both standalone tales and interconnected segments. Because the stories all take place within a certain kind of world in a general area there is crossover with some characters appearing briefly in other character's stories and even reappearing on their own at different times in their lives.

Every so often a reader will come upon a book that makes them think, "Wow! How have I not heard of this author before?" The Low Des
Lida James
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I would give Tod Goldberg's collection of stories, The Low Desert, ten stars if I could. Twenty! The stories, which MUST be read in order, are hardcore and funny and heartbreaking. Aside from the brilliant writing--he has an insane ear for voice--the stories weave together to create a whole--Cubist even--world in and around desert communities in eastern CA and Las Vegas. Like these misunderstood cities, there's so much more to the characters who live there--Goldberg gives each such depth it's li ...more
Emmet Browne
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Full of swagger and humor, Mr. Goldberg creates emotionally engaging gangster stories rich with atmosphere, leaning into the aesthetic of the Southern California desert, and the type of people it draws in. But his even larger talent here is in his subtle—and honest—ability to show three-dimensionality in his bad guys and good guys. We experience moments that are extremely touching, even awe inspiring, quickly—and with precise timing—juxtaposed by the macabre of organized crime. These are the kin ...more
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Tod Goldberg is a fantastic writer, and these short stories, which loosely fit into the world of his Gangsterland series, are terrific literary crime writing at its best. I interviewed Tod for this one. Here's a link to that story for more background on it: ...more
Paul Wilner
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great stuff, in the noir, but never nostalgic, or campy, tradition. Funny in parts, too.
Read it - trust me on this.
Feb 17, 2021 rated it liked it
The writing rates four stars, at least, but the concept, a collection of loosely connected short stories about minor criminals in California's Inland Empire, only merits two. Mr. Goldberg's prose is stylish without being stylized, and he only rarely indulgences in the crime-fiction vice of being impressed with his own badassery. The body counts in most of the stories are impressive without being excessive. Mr. Goldberg also eschews quirkiness, another crime fiction pitfall, in favor of flat-out ...more
I didn't know Tod Goldberg's work up to this point. The stories are well-written, and occasionally, because of the topic, rather grim. These are stories of gangsters & organized crime, their victims, and the peripheral people who are only tangentially connected to what happened. After a few stories, you begin to see names you've already read & you realize these are connected stories. Of course, a less careless reading of the cover blurbs would tell you that. Oops!

Now that I've read The Low Deser
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This story collection was so terrific that I allowed myself to read only one story a day so I could make it last a little longer. It would difficult to pick a favorite story since each one had so much to offer. This collection is so amazing because these stories manage to do so much - this collection seamlessly mixes the darkest side of criminal world, but somehow also offers humanity, humor, and heart. I felt both entertained, but challenged. I love that Goldberg can write about crime and gangs ...more
Feb 22, 2021 rated it liked it
Keeping it real, this was a disappointment after the first two gangster books. I thought it was a great book plot and shared theme with everyone. the low Desert reminded me of like episode 4 of a new series after the first 3 blew you away. Less than continuing the actual storyline from gangster land/nation though I just couldn't get vested in this book
All the interviews with authors talk about characters characters, I feel!t nothing for any off them and was letdown by the poor ending of Natasha.
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A fast read of 12 great stories. Goon Number Four was my favorite. I liked how some of the characters reappear in other stories.
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Jan 18, 2021
Scott Zohlman
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Feb 24, 2021
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Mar 04, 2021
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Feb 25, 2021
Jonathan Torres
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Feb 28, 2021
fred marsden
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Feb 18, 2021
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Tod Goldberg is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including Gangsterland, a 2015 finalist for the Hammett Prize, The House of Secrets, which he co-authored with Brad Meltzer, and the Burn Notice series. His latest book, Gangster Nation, will be released in Fall 2017. Get discounts now on BookBub! ...more

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