Sam Drift is a college dropout who spends his days smoking pot, writing movie reviews, wallowing in the betrayal of the only girl he ever loved, and watching old noir flicks with his beloved cat, Audrey Hepburn. Life is perfect. But when Sam’s editor forces him to write an article about the death of an exotic dancer outside an unpopular strip club, he suddenly finds himself tangled in a web of local politics and criminal enterprise.
The plot thickens when Sam’s ex-girlfriend comes to town to premiere a movie at a local film festival. Can Sam solve the mystery of the dead stripper and win back the love of his life? Or is Sam’s delusional THC-riddled brain just acting out a Humphrey Bogart fantasy that doesn’t actually exist?
Part Big Sleep and part Big Lebowski, The Mean Reds is a quirky small-town mystery told by one of the most unreliable narrators you’ll ever read.
Smart, funny, and slightly sideways, Dale Bridges’ The Mean Reds is a rollicking, entertaining read about a passion for the movies, small-town crime, and untapped ambitions. Readers won’t forget the original first-person voice of Sam Drift. For all of his brokenness and drunkenness, there is much to admire about Sam—and this refreshing debut novel. --S. Kirk Walsh, author of the national bestseller The Elephant of Belfast
Falling somewhere in the middle of the crime genre spectrum that shimmers between Dashiell Hammet's Maltese Falcon and Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids, The Mean Reds taps our hapless protagonist's silver-screen obsessions to reveal just how valiantly a drug-bedraggled schlub of a journo can rise (or, yeah, fall) when death, dames, and destiny come a-calling. You might be able to put this archly cinematic novel down for a minute—like, for a quick swig on a double-strength Old Fashioned or because you need to pass along the candy blunt you've been hitting—but, friend, I'd bet you a purloined Oscar that you'll pick it back up again ASAP.
-- Austin Chronicle
When you recommend a book to a friend, you want to say, “This book is like this other book that you enjoy!” The Mean Reds is going to make you want to say, “This book is kind of Augusten Burroughs, but kind of Chuck Palahniuk, but kind of Christopher Moore, but kind of Kurt Vonnegut.” You’re going to want to say that because a) you WILL want to recommend it to your friends; and b) your brain will be wrestling with the truth: The Mean Reds isn’t like anything you’ve ever read before. It’s a truly unique debut novel, full of broken people and unreliable narration and cringe-inducing situations, all told in Bridges’ distinctive, masterful prose. It’s goddamned glorious.
-- Dr. Christopher Bell, Skydance Animation
Dale Bridges’ debut novel is a hilarious bourbon-soaked, hash-toned slacker noir with an unforgettable, stumbling cinephile at its heart. Bridges is natural at crafting worlds and populating them with wild, endearing, outrageous, and utterly believed characters. Expect conspiracies, parties, drugs, and more classic movie references than you can shake a weed pipe at. Also expect the unexpected. This book will surprise you!
-- Owen Egerton, author of Hollow and the writer/director of Mercy Black
Packed with highly caffeinated observations on pop culture and classic film icons and an unreliably hungover writer protagonist, The Mean Reds announces Dale Bridges as a hip, smart, and wickedly funny writer.
-- Jesse Sublett III, author of Last Gangster in Austin
About the Author
Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press