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Lola
Cover of Lola
Lola
A Novel
An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman who combines the genius and ferocity of Lisbeth Salander with the ruthless ambition of Walter White
The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia . . . but what no one has figured out is that the gang's real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia's girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola. Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man's world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter—and in many ways tougher and more ruthless—than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.
Lola marks the debut of a hugely exciting new thriller writer, and of a singular, magnificent character unlike anyone else in fiction.
An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman who combines the genius and ferocity of Lisbeth Salander with the ruthless ambition of Walter White
The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia . . . but what no one has figured out is that the gang's real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia's girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola. Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man's world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter—and in many ways tougher and more ruthless—than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.
Lola marks the debut of a hugely exciting new thriller writer, and of a singular, magnificent character unlike anyone else in fiction.
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  • From the cover ONE

    HEAT

    Lola stands across the craggy square of backyard she shares with Garcia. He mans the grill, rusted tongs and Corona with lime in hand, making the center of a cluster of men, their biceps bare and beaded with sweat, Crenshaw Six tattoos evident in their standard uniform of wife-beaters and torn cargo pants. If Lola were alone with Garcia, she would take her turn over the smoking meat, too,but as afternoon transforms Huntington Park from light to shadow, Lola stays away from the heat. Her place now is at the center of a cluster of women, their necks craning toward any high-pitched squeak that might be gossip, each one standing with a single hip cocked, as if at any second someone might place a sleeping child there for comfort.

    Kim speaks loudest, her voice loose change clinking on delicate glass.

    "Chicas gotta be buzzin' around, like we don't know what game they runnin'. I were you, Lola, I'd tell that bitch to stay the fuck away from my man."

    Lola's eyes find a younger girl, no more than seventeen, weaving too close to the men, Garcia in particular. Lola can't blame her. The entire neighborhood is aware of Garcia's chosen profession.

    In Huntington Park, a ghetto suburb of Los Angeles just east of South Central, a legit man has two choices: landscaping for off-the-books Westside white cash, or sweating through twelve-hour shifts at a factory in Vernon. The lucky factory bodies get Sara Lee; the unlucky are stuck with the fat-rendering plants, where they operate gleaming metal machines that dissolve flesh and bone to liquid.

    Garcia does not make his living either way, because he is not a legit man. He is the leader of the Crenshaw Six. Everyone at this barbecue could recite the corners the gang controls, from the retirement home off Gage and State to the middle-school crossing at Marconi. Despite this knowledge, no one is willing to risk a good rack of ribs and a cold Corona over a few moral scruples. Drugs are an understandable, if not respectable, way to make a living in the ghettos of Los Angeles, and the Crenshaw Six members have their own rules—no selling to kids, no soliciting to old folks unless they're in pain. The gang's code keeps the community appeased, and everyone, those who make their living legally and those who rely on committing felonies to survive, coexists. Everyone likes ribs, Lola had told Garcia when she first brought up the idea of throwing a party.

    Garcia didn't want to host this barbecue. He was tired from work, business being good, though neither one of them would ever use that expression for fear of the inevitable fall from success. Their tiny nugget of South Central Los Angeles—or so they consider it, even though they've just missed the eastern border—with its strip mall Laundromats, grease-slicked taquerias, and glass-fronted bail bond offices, is no Wall Street. There are no second chances, no getting back on one's feet. Nobody here has enough time for a comeback. Instead of minimum sentences at white-collar resorts, people here get bullets to the head, either victims of circumstance or mere collateral damage. The success stories are few and far between, and they never last.

    Still, Lola had told Garcia they should spend a little of their extra cash, show their neighbors a good time. Like normal people who've had some good fortune—dole out free food and beer, generate some goodwill and community spirit. She had won what never became an argument, Garcia shrugging and saying, "I'll buy the meat."

    Now, watching the younger girl scout her man, Lola feels a surge of something she can't name. Someone wants what she, Lola, has. Garcia, aside from a passing...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 2, 2017
    At the start of Love’s stunning debut, a messenger from the Los Liones cartel visits the Huntington Park, Calif., home of 26-year-old Lola Vasquez and extends an offer to her boyfriend, Garcia. If Garcia’s gang, the Crenshaw Six, can intercept a drop between one of Los Liones’s former dealers and the man’s new supplier, the gang will get 10% of the loot and control of the dealer’s territory; if they fail, Lola dies. Garcia accepts, but the ambush goes awry, forcing Lola—the Crenshaw Six’s true leader—to emerge from the shadows and fight for her own survival and the safety of those she holds dear. This powerful read is at once an intelligently crafted mystery, a reflection on the cycles of violence and addiction, and a timely mediation on the double standard facing women in authority. Love’s writing is artful and evocative, her story’s sense of place and culture are strong, and, in Lola, Love has created a fully fleshed-out and uniquely compelling antihero who commands fear, respect, and adoration in equal measure. Agent: Eve Attermann, WME.

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Lola
Lola
A Novel
Melissa Scrivner Love
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