Jasmine Frank is missing.
It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.
Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline blast of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.
“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a beautiful noir novel for the 21st century! It’s a wild, frantic ride through shady Southern California, a desperate drug-fueled search for a girl who only wants to escape a sordid life.”
—Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest and That Left Turn at Albuquerque
“Jason Bovberg's Loser Baby is a high-octane thriller that moves like greased lightning! The beauty of this book is its motley collection of despicable characters whom you come to love by the end. Loser Baby is Bovberg's greatest book and one of the best of the year.
—Gary Phillips, author of Blood and Asphalt and Birds of Fire
Available for blog tours, giveaways, interviews, and so on.
Available for blog tours, giveaways, interviews, and so on.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
Loser Baby is straight merciless tragedy, hold the comedy, with intense, unrelenting and unrepentant action throughout. Told from the perspectives of multiple characters, this story delves deep into the dark corners of society’s underbelly – poverty, drugs, crime, abusive relationships, and mental illness – while also finding a way to highlight beautiful aspects of life such as resilience, forgiveness, connecting with others, rising to the occasion and the eternal pursuit of a better life. Loser Baby follows a cast of characters who are profoundly flawed, clinging to the bottom rung of the economic ladder and trying to overcome the crappy hand life has delt them. They’re all involved in the dual searches for Jasmine Frank and Tommy Strafe’s valuable coin collection, both missing since last night’s raging designer drug-fueled party. While all participants have the same end goal in mind, finding Jasmine and the coins, they have vastly different motives and methods for bringing events to a close. In fact, literally no character is safe from violence and harm. Beyond the strong character development and twisting plot, the best part of Jason Bovberg’s novel was the fantastic choice to have each chapter told from a specific character’s perspective. This adds depth to the storytelling rather than following one straight narrative that clearly identifies the protagonists from the villains. Instead, good vs. bad is a fluid concept in Loser Baby, forcing the reader to continually confront their feelings for each person as the story unfolds, changing opinions several times as events progress towards the conclusion. It’s quite the emotional roller coaster from start to finish. A solid new entry into the Thriller Noir genre, Loser Baby is a complex story that deserves to be consumed and digested by thoughtful readers who want an emotional experience. It’s not for the faint at heart. But if you dare to open the front cover, you will be rewarded with an emotional read that will stick with you long after completion.
I enjoyed this book that gave me thrills, suspense, mystery and emotions. The writing is good, the narrative is good with a good pace and the character development is great with flawed characters who are still relatable and loveable – because who isn’t flawed right? - this book definitely isn’t for the faint at heart but trust me you need to read this book.
I finished Loser Baby quite a few days ago, but I’ve had trouble coming up with my review. Why? Because there’s absolutely no way I could adequately explain, summarize, or expound intelligently about this story without ruining it for you. I’ll do my best, but geez-o-pete you really need to read it for yourself. Mr. Bovberg has created a story that’s very complex and yet at the same time very simple. The premise is simple – there’s a party, a robbery, and a chase. Where it gets complex is the characters – your opinion of who’s the “good guy” and who’s the “bad guy” in this story changes often. You’ll need to take notes and keep up (or do like I did and read the whole thing in 2 days). What a refreshing surprise that this mystery doesn’t have a “white hat” main character trying to get the evil dude. Each and every character has their good and bad, and you’re simply along for the ride. Even the secondary characters pull you in. The book changes points of view each chapter. I adore this, and Mr. Bovberg pulls it off beautifully. The ability to change points of view within the book was so well done it makes for a well rounded view of what was happening to each character. This makes you care about each character while also making you question if you want them to achieve their goals. You’ll have lots of feelings about these people, I promise. I won’t give it away, but I guarantee you that the ending is nothing like you’re expecting. It’s very satisfying, but completely out of left field! I highly recommend this book if you like mysteries, noir, surprise endings, or simply well-told tales.
To most people when they hear about California’s iconic Orange County, they think of the bored Newport Beach housewives at Fashion Island or the giggling teenagers at pre-covid Disneyland. In Loser Baby, Bovberg strips that illusion from the stage and introduces readers to the rest of The real OC, filled with rundown apartments, skanky homeless methheads, and a drug addled teenagers racing down crowded boulevards on their way to drown out their nightmares. Loser Baby introduces us to a pair of luckless twins who decide to party with a bully from their high school and his drug dealing buddies in a skanked wasteland cup-de-sac of Santa Ana. Like any good noir, we get a bag full of money and a group of people at each other’s throats racing around the County trying to find each other or escape from each other. What makes Loser Baby stand out is it’s told through the ever-changing point of view of a group of losers who keep digging themselves deeper and deeper into hell. It opens with the twins, Jasmine and Jordan, who lose each other at the party. Jordan wakes up in their apartment without a clue if how he got there or where his little sister is in her mini sparkling blue dress. He goes nuts trying to find her. Jasmine wakes up curled up in the In and Out Drive-Thru without her purse, her phone, her sense. Looking like a homeless addict with a shopping bag of heavy stuff, she’s got no idea how to get home. From there we get to know luckless loser after luckless loser all racing around and heading toward a giant dead-end as the nastiness swirls around them getting more and more serious as bodies start turning up and there ain’t no salvation nowhere.
Firstly the cover drew me to this book! I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Great writing, great characters and a great storyline. Time to clear your schedule for the afternoon, coffee pot on and phone turned off - you won’t want to put this one down. This was a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish (and what a finish it was)!
Loser Baby is first and foremost a gritty noir novel, exposing the seamy side of Southern California. The story's characters run the gamut from well-intentioned to downright evil and though some have more depth than others, almost all are in some way relatable. This book is action-packed, filled with car chases and terrifying realizations. Though it focuses on the darker side of human nature, it ends on a hopeful note. The ending is sad and satisfying; sad because you want more of the story, satisfying because you were really invested in the characters who came out on top.
Thank you to NetGalley for an early e-reader version of this book. Everyone is a loser in this book. From Jasmine and Jordan Frank, to everyone they encounter in the course of one 24-hour period. Jasmine, having fled with her twin brother, Jordan, from an abusive home, goes missing, and that is where the fun starts. Through a frenetic tour of a SoCal town, the reader is introduced to various characters, all with secrets and wants that they don't share with anyone. It leads to a brilliant conclusion, which I will not spoil. I really enjoyed this book, and felt the characters and situations were well-developed. The tension and pacing were very good, and kept me reading. I didn't want to put this book down, and had to see how it turned out. I loved the structure of the alternating points of view per chapter as it kept the action moving and really developed the characters well. Pick up this book and go on a thrill ride with a pack of losers like you've never seen before.
I rarely choose a book by it's cover. I've heard the warning. But I picked this one up from the cover and the title makes me start singing the old Beck song. I was immediately drawn in. This is the Orange County I use to know and still hate. Orange county is a study in extremes and the noir vision of it in this one is the extreme people outside of Southern California never see anymore. I found myself drawn back to the places I went in the early 90s that I wouldn't go anywhere near now! But twins Jordan and Jasmine do go there. And Jasmine makes a mistake. And Jordan is left to search for her. He gets more and more into the photo negative of the socal not seen on "reality" TV. I just loved it. I couldn't believe how quickly I finished this book.
Very entertaining and unpretentious book that moves briskly along and then wraps up everything nicely at the end in an expected way. Artfully done and a writer to watch! I rec this book to everyone!
The Review A gritty and surreal look into the various facets of life in Orange County, author Jason Bovberg does an incredible job of capturing the atmosphere and culture of the O.C. area and those living in it. As someone who grew up in Southern California and has family from Orange County, it was fascinating to see the setting and atmosphere come to life like that, as the O.C. has so many different layers and cultures bubbling within it, and this book really brought that to life. Yet it was the layered approach to the book’s mystery that kept the suspense and thriller genre alive in this novel. The story really elevates the narrative by taking the original premise and mystery and flipping it on its head. The shocking twists and turns the narrative takes, and the really nuanced characters that gave this story the emotional depth that it employed, was so engaging that I was hard-pressed to put this book down. The Verdict A remarkable, chilling, and emotional roller coaster, author Jason Bovberg’s “Loser Baby” is a must-read novel of 2021! The mystery and intrigue the story takes plays well against the dark and seedy undertones of both the criminal elements of the area and the average people caught up in the madness the day becomes, making this story really engrossing to read.