New from Down & Out Books: Adrenaline Junkie: A Memoir by Les Edgerton

Down and Out Books., Les Edgerton, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

New from Down & Out Books …

Adrenaline Junkie: A Memoir by Les Edgerton

Publication Date: November 19, 2018

Buy the trade paperback from the Down & Out Bookstore and receive a FREE digital download of the book!

Also available from the following retailers …
Print: Amazon — Amazon UK — Barnes & Noble — IndieBound
eBook: Kindle — Kindle UK — Nook — iTunes — Kobo — Play

Synopsis … Adrenaline Junkie is more than a renowned, multi-award-winning author entertaining with his life history. Les Edgerton understands that backstory matters. It influences the present. So he journeyed through his past seeking answers for why he was the way he was. Seeking answers for his thrill-seeking, devil-may-care, often self-destructive, behaviors. Seeking a sense of personal peace.

Why was he compelled to be the best he could be in all his endeavors—legal or otherwise. What drove him to excel, then flee success, only to strive for supremacy in another field?

Adrenaline Junkie holds the answers. With nothing held back. With his life-saving humor, an indomitable spirit, and a fierce courage to expose the ugly and painful. Like the tough, raw, vulnerable characters Les writes about in his short stories and novels, he exposes us to a man fighting against family, society, and his own sense of injustice. Fighting for a moment—regardless of how fleeting—to feel in control of his life. And, as uncomfortable at times as Les’s life adventure may be for us to witness, we come away grateful he took us with him.

So settle back. Meet a real-life, twenty-first-century Renaissance man. A real-life adrenaline junkie.


Adrenaline Junkie is a raw and harrowing memoir that brilliantly combines great sensitivity with brutal honesty. Les Edgerton is never afraid to reveal his vulnerability—and culpability—as he takes us on a head-spinning ride through the bizarre and terrifying experiences in a life that was often defined by violence. The result is a breathtaking page-turner that will keep readers hooked from page one and will never let them go.” —Lisa Lieberman Doctor, former Warner Bros. prodco president, president of Robin Williams prodco, Blue Wolf Productions

“Filled with stories of knifings, armed robberies, brutal prison fights, and Charles Manson (yes, that Charles Manson!), Edgerton proves that life can be stranger (and certainly more violent) than fiction. But Edgerton isn’t just a guy with a tough story to tell. He’s a poet who startles you with sentences both stark and darkly beautiful. An astonishing accomplishment.” —Jon Bassoff, author of Corrosion

Adrenaline Junkie is the compelling, beautifully written story of an extraordinary man who has lived on both sides of the tracks. Les Edgerton achieves a sort of sainthood among sinners, an apotheosis of rebellion and force, much like Harcamone at Fontevrault, or a hero in a Johnny Cash song, a huge, Promethean work of major significance and scale.” —Richard Godwin, critically acclaimed author

“Edgerton’s prose hits with the force of a hammer—as does his recollection of an America, both deeply flawed and wonderful, that is now more important than ever to keep in our sights. Adrenaline Junkiemakes sense of one man’s life while showing us all new aspects of our own.” —Jenny Milchman, USA Today bestselling and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Cover of Snow and Wicked River

“No one can accuse Les of being a ‘crime tourist’. He’s lived the life, done the bird, and now he’s written the book. Adrenaline Junkie should be on any prospective (or established) crime writer’s list. An entertaining, darkly-rendered tale of one man’s adventures in the very belly of the beast.” —Tony Black, author of Her Cold Eyes

“Sometimes shocking, often poignant, occasionally distasteful, frequently funny, and always brutally honest, Adrenaline Junkie tells the story of one man’s harrowing yet ultimately successful quest for redemption. Written with razor-sharp clarity, Edgerton’s memoir is a triumph.” —Robert Rotstein, author of We, the Jury

Adrenaline Junkie will be required reading for crime writers one day, a bible for future authors to study rebellion and the human spirit, that smart-ass spark inside us all that doesn’t like taking orders from parents, teachers, and even the law. Author of The Rapist and The Bitch, two of the most profound noir novels published, an ex-criminal and former prison inmate, Edgerton knows what makes all of us tick, and how, with not much of a shove, any one of us could end up behind bars. One of the most fascinating autobiographies you will ever read: from professional thief and pimp to award-winning author and teacher.” —Jack Getze, author of the award-winning Austin Carr Mysteries

Adrenaline Junkie is at once heartbreaking as it is funny, and just plain sick. A masterful work that will be lauded by both writers and the general reading public alike.” —Vincent Zandri, New York Times and USA Today bestselling and Thriller Award-winning author

“Edgerton is a back-alley Kerouac. Walk away from this knowing that your life-defining moments were his slow Tuesdays.” —Liam Sweeny, author of Presiding Over the Damned

“In a way, Edgerton already wrote Adrenaline Junkie in his crime novels. With the veneer of fiction removed, his always entertaining, often enlightening, sometimes infuriating and unapologetic stories hit even harder. Without any doubt, Edgerton is one of the great storytellers of fiction—and now non-fiction.” —Benjamin Sobieck, author of The Writer’s Digest Guide to Firearms and Knives

“Having survived an American Gothic horror story of a childhood, unrepentant former thief, dope dealer, hedonist, Navy hellraiser, and porn actor, Les Edgerton—now a writer and teacher—tells a tale of many tales: If Scheherazade were an old pirate who got away with the gold, this would be his opus.” —Earl Javorsky, author of Down to No Good

“Les Edgerton’s expertly told memoir is in turns tragic, thrilling, funny and heart-breaking. Adrenaline Junkie is a powerful blend of coming-of-age story, family drama and low-life crime thriller.” —Paul D. Brazill, author of Last Year’s Man

“Edgerton has lived a life most of us only write about. That he’s actually lived it and has the chops to deliver such a vividly drawn memoir gives me a raging case of writer’s envy.” —Maegan Beaumont, award-winning author

“How often is a memoir genuinely astounding? A reformed outlaw takes us through his harsh rural childhood, working harder before he was twelve than most of us ever will. There follows armed robbery, pimping, drug dealing, rape in prison, narrowly avoiding a hellcat’s castration attempt, suicide foiled by the rope breaking, a walk on part for Charles Manson and his creepy serial killer mate—who got short shrift from our host. And so much more…So many startling sentences: ‘She was going to be his last fuck before the operation and I was going to be his first after he became a woman.’ ‘It was then Charles Manson started to contact me…’ There’s a satisfying twist late on after he becomes a family man so this fascinating book has just the right ending. Essential reading. Makes Bukowski seem like Donny Osmond.” —Mark Ramsden, author of The Dark Magus and the Sacred Whore

“A tryst with Brit Ecklund, a shoot-out in a deserted high school, robbing a laundromat in front of a patrol car. Those are just a few moments is Les Edgerton’s checkered past. He went from a Huck Finn-like childhood in Texas, the swinging sixties as a criminal, time in Indiana’s Pendleton prison, and eighties excess in New Orleans, with little slowing him down until a good woman found a way. Funny, harrowing, and poignant in spots, reading Adrenaline Junkie is like being lucky enough to sit at the bar next to that guy who has lived a lot of stories and knows how to tell them. Yes, Les Edgerton was an adrenaline junkie and he always knew where to get a fix.” —Scott Montgomery, MysteryPeople Crime Fiction Coordinator

Fiction Extract: LOVE TUNNEL By Les Edgerton

Crime Fiction, Down and Out Books., Fiction, Les Edgerton, Noir, Punk Noir Magazine

edgerton-genuine-imitation-plastic-kidnapping-300x450px(From my novel, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING from Down & Out Books) 

An hour later, Tommy and me are sitting on the St. Charles streetcar, at the stop by the zoo down by Club 4141, watching people get on in the front. The last two on are a young tourist couple in matching yellow Bermuda shorts.

“Cool,” Tommy said. “Tourists. They’ll have cash.” He took a drag from his cigarette. He was sitting directly under the “No Smoking” sign, but held it outside the window.

I didn’t disagree. There were maybe fifteen people on board, not counting us and the motorman. This was looking better and better. Might get as much as a couple of thousand out of this crew.

“See that?” Tommy said. I followed his eyes which were locked on the buxom female member of the tourist couple. She was a looker.

“Yeah? So?”

“So this.” He brought his forearm up, pretending to take a bite out of it.

“You wish,” I said, grinning.

“Yeah, well I got something her boyfriend ain’t.”

I laughed out loud. “Right, Tommy. Ugliness. But I think she’s maybe one of those weirdos goes for brains and looks. At least one of those.”

Tommy turned and gave me a look. “I’m talking technique here,” he said. “I got this technique.”



“What… you got a cute way of gettin’ on and off?”

“Naw, man,” he said, shaking his head like he can’t believe how dumb I am. “That’s like a big dick. Everybody’s got that.”

I snickered. “I don’t recall you was so blessed in the big wang department, Tommy.”

“Yeah, well I was cold that time. We just got out of the lake, for crissake. See, Pete, being a champion at sex is like being good at basketball. You got to be able to go strong to the hole.”

There was a young gal behind us who I could see was trying to ignore what Tommy was saying. She squirmed in her seat and studied the scenery out the window, them mansions sliding by.

I was dying to know Tommy’s ‘technique’ and asked him.

“I piss in ’em,” he said.

The gal behind us grabbed her purse and sniffed, loud, got up and moved three rows back to the last seat.

“Fuck you, lady,” Tommy muttered. “You don’t like the conversation, relocate.”

I couldn’t help smiling. “She did. What’s this pissing thing?”

I saw the street sign flash by. Coming up was where we planned to do our thing. The corner where St. Charles turned onto Carrollton, by the Camellia Grill. Three blocks from where we’d stashed Tommy’s Nova to make our getaway.

“Never mind,” I said. “Here it comes. You ready?”

“I was born ready,” Tommy said. He stood up and reached his hand into his waistband.

The gal who had relocated screamed out, “This man has a gun!”


The streetcar went nuts. Pandemonium erupted—passengers screaming, brakes screeching as the conductor slammed the car to a half. Tommy lost his balance and recovered. The tourist woman in the front screamed one long banshee scream—Ayyyyeeeeeeeaaahhhh! She’s just one long scream, punctuated only by the times she has to draw breath.

Eeeeeeeeeaaaaaayaaaaah! Ayaayaaya! Aaaaaayaeeee!

“Shut up!” Tommy screamed. “Shut the fuck up!”

He looked down at me where I was just kind of sitting, pretty much in shock.

“You on a break here, Pete?”

I just gawked at him. This wasn’t what I’d envisioned. His eyes left mine and I followed his stare to the gal who’d blown the whistle on us in the rear seat. She had a gun out, trained on him with both hands, just like they do on TV. I couldn’t move. My entire life didn’t flash before my eyes, but about twenty-six years and three months of it did.

“I’m throwing up in my mouth, is what I’m doing,” I said. What had I got into?

“You’ll wanna brush your teeth before you kiss any girls, then,” he said.

Tommy brought his own gun up to bear on the woman in back, same two-handed grip she had. Mexican standoff.

He turned his head slightly down to me, still keeping his gaze on the woman. “Shoot her!” he said. This was just completely fucked.

“You got the gun, Captain Marvel,” I said, finally. “You shoot her.”

Instead of answering or shooting her, he began to back up toward the front door, his piece still trained on the woman. I got up to follow him. It got worse. Four people in the back pulled out weapons and pointed them our way.

“Shit! Shit, shit, shit!” It was all Tommy could say. My sentiments exactly.

I had to hand it to him, though. He didn’t lose it.

“Look, folks,” he said. “We’re gonna just get off now, leave all you good people be. Everybody just stay calm.”

One of the male armed passengers near the back door stood up. He said, “Like hell. I’m taking you out, cowboy.”

I felt like I was going to pass out.

The conductor opened the back door with his control and stood up. “Let ’em go,” he said. “I don’t want no blood in my car.”

The guy with the gun didn’t like what he was hearing. “Aw, man,” he said in a whiney voice. “You can’t just let criminals roam around. We got to take a stand. This is New Orleans, not Fucking-Pansy-Ass-New-York-City. We don’t take no prisoners in this town.”

“Listen, Dirty Harry,” the conductor said. “This is my streetcar. I make the rules. Siddown and shut up and let these folks pass.”

Tommy ran for the door and I was closer than his shadow behind him, leaping off a nanosecond after he did, scrambling as fast as we could across the street.

The mouthy man and the woman in back opened up with their pistolas. I didn’t turn back to look, just kept running as hard as I could, but I heard glass shattering, people screaming, and the pop-pop-pop of handguns. Something whizzed just past my ear and I was pretty sure it wasn’t a mosquito unless insects came in calibers. I ran smack into a braking car, bounced off the hood, got up and kept on running. My side was on fire. Any second now, I imagined a hot piece of lead finding my skull or some other tender part. The regrets were coming as fast as the bullets and I kept wondering like you do in such times of stress when it was evident that God had dropped my case and went off to take a nap or something.

Ten seconds from our failed streetcar heist and bullets still whizzing randomly, I followed Tommy as he ran around a house, heard the shots cease.

“Fuck this!” I said to Tommy, who’d slowed down to a trot once we were out of sight.

“No shit,” he said. “Who woulda figured the Marines would be on that streetcar?”

We kept jogging until we were three blocks away and saw Tommy’s car up the street where we’d left it. We got to the car which was a good thing. I couldn’t go another step. I leaned over, put my hands on my knees, panted like I’d just run the kickoff back a hundred yards for a touchdown. At least what I imagined that to feel like. Getting my wind back, I twisted my head up to look at Tommy. “You kidding me? A motherfucker without a gun in this town is about as rare as a rabbi in a Santa Claus suit.”

We heard the faint sound of sirens up on St. Charles. Getting louder. Sounded like they were starting to sweep the neighborhood.

We headed out to Veterans’ Highway and the second we turned onto it, a siren sounded at a distance, coming closer. Tommy looked at me and slowed down and my heart speeded up.

The cruiser passed us and the second he did, Tommy tipped the beer can he’d been drinking out of, drained it, and tossed it in his back seat, which was already littered with about two cases worth of aluminum cans. He speeded back up.

“Some Indian,” I said. “This car oughta be reported to Pollution Control.”

“You don’t like it?”

Before I could say anything, he braked for the light we’d come up on. He got out, opened the back door and swept a mass of debris onto the street with his arm. It made a pile of at least two feet high. He jumped back behind the wheel… and ran the still-red light. Cars honked.

What an asshole. “I gotta believe you’re outta the redskin union,” I said. “Chief Sitting-Bull… Bull-shit, that’s you.”

He flashed me a shit-eating grin.

“Screw you,” I said. “That’s the last job I pull with you.”

“Oh yeah? What about Sam the Bam.”

He was referring to the debt I owed my bookie. It was a nut-crusher.

“I’ll get it somehow,” I said.

“Right,” he said. “Your favorite aunt’s gonna leave you her Coke-Cola stocks, right?”

“What I’m gonna do is quit betting the fucking Saints and their lousy-ass quarterback.”

He was quiet for a minute, then said, “Pete, you know I got the plan to get us right.”

“Oh, yeah. That genius plan with the supermarket guy? That’s your much-better-than-robbing-a-streetcar plan, right?”

He didn’t have an answer for that.

There was no way in hell I was going to do his supermarket kidnap piece of shit plan. I’d figure out a way to keep Sam the Bam off my ass until I could come up with what I owed. I just had to figure out an angle.

We ended up going to this hole-in-the-wall bar Tommy could run a tap in. He was going to talk and I said I’d listen, but I knew I wouldn’t. I could use a beer, though.


We’re sitting in this dump, knocking back longnecks, staring at the TV where a Giants-Mets game is going on.

A good-looking hooker with a serious hard body, got up from the bar and passed us on her way out. Her ass was flat-out bouncing.

“Now, there’s one I could definitely piss in,” Tommy said. “You just know she’d freak. Probably wanna get married.”

“What the fuck’s up with this pissing thing?”

“You piss in ’em. In their . . . whaddya-callit . . . their vagina. Their love tunnel. While you’re doin’ it.”
“You what?”

“Yeah,” he said. Said it serious as a heart attack. “Nothing to it, really, but you know how many guys do that?”

“My guess would be zero,” I said. “Why would you want to?”

He looked at me and the look he gave me was that he was sitting across from the dumbest son-of-a-bitch he’d ever known. “It drives bitches crazy. It’s like the biggest nut they ever felt. You ain’t been around much, have you, Pete?”

“Jesus, Tommy! It can’t be done, dude.”

“Says who? I done it lots of times.”
“I’m telling you it’s impossible.”

“And why’s that, Mr. Encyclopedia Britannica?”



“Yeah, moron. Squeeze your cock sometime when you’re pissin’. Use the tips’a your thumb and forefinger. That should be enough.”

Tommy sighed, like the burden of talking to such a dumbass was wearing him out. “‘A woman’s pussy ain’t that tight,” he said.

I had to laugh. “Yeah, well, I guess you got an edge there most of us don’t, Penrod.” I shook my head. “You know, your brain waves is in a perpetual brown-out, Tommy.”

“Crack all you want,” he said. Then: “Forget that shit. What’re we gonna do about Sam the Bam, buddy? I’m into him too, you know.”

Jesus. Sam the Bam. I stared off into the distance. “All I ever wanted to do was open me a lousy po-boy shop. Maybe win fifty grand on the Series. Giants losing…”

LES EDGERTON’s memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE  is available for OUT NOW!