Hustle by Tom Pitts is a gritty, harsh story of two male prostitutes from San Francisco who attempt to blackmail a wealthy lawyer in order to get off the streets and out of the business (available April 1, 2014).
Despite all the good authors working in the field today, most noir is not exactly what you'd call mainstream. In noir's stubborn allegiance to darkness and loss, fuck-ups and crackpots, it may never be. From a fan's perspective, this is exciting. It means noir remains an area not entirely sullied by commercial concerns, and the result is books that can take risks. Tom Pitts' Hustle is that sort of book, a fearless exploration of a bleak, harsh slice of the world. In its frank portrayal of drug-addicted male hustlers angling and scrambling to survive, it's a novel with a transgressive edge, and you don't have to read very far into it to sense it will take you where it needs to go, not where it thinks the reader may want to travel.
We're in San Francisco, present day. Donny and his friend Big Rich are two addicts with no jobs who make whatever money they can as street prostitutes. Donny seems to be in his late teens; Big Rich is a little older. They are best friends who look out for each other, and Rich serves as a mentor to Donny. They are part of a group of boys who hustle, and from page one, Pitts gives us a clear-eyed view of their tight community:
...Down on that corner, everybody knew each other. Everybody was into each other's business. The boys depended on each other for information. Information was survival. They all knew the regulars, the older men who would cruise the corner in their luxury cars. They got to know who was married, who liked to party, who liked it freaky, and who was HIV-positive. Some of the tricks didn't care who knew, but some liked to keep it a secret.