Shadow Dance

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West is a man looking to flee the past, barely old enough to drink, determined to rediscover himself after several tours in Afghanistan as a POW prison guard. After going AWOL, West looks to reunite with Solomon, his childhood best friend, who exists in the dark underworld of a Los Angeles gentleman’s club. West soon finds himself caught in the web of the Iranian family running the castle-themed Club Paradise. Big Z Pourali is a former wrestler with a dark side, whose businesses his dancers, employees, and family in peril. West stays in LA to look after Solomon, but soon falls for the club owner’s daughter Nikki. West must come to terms with the raw underside of a Los Angeles crime family and his own past, all the while hoping to maintain his sanity in the process. Written by former US Army interrogator Martin Ott (The Interrogator’s Notebook), Shadow Dance is a novel that explores what it means to face one’s past in order to claim one’s future.

Praise for Shadow Dance

“Martin Ott’s Shadow Dance is the perfect L.A. Noir novel for our times, with a little of everything—romance, drugs, filmmaking, PTSD, twisted families, repressed memories, and mysterious disappearances—all set in a sketchy strip club in Little Persia on L.A.’s West Side. Ott’s Buddy Rivet is a deeply flawed character, a hard-luck Army vet, who readers will root for, a soulful guy who wants to save the world but isn’t sure he can save himself. This book is L.A. Confidential meets The Family Fang, with all the deception and double-cross of a terrific crime story, told in breathless, blunt-force-trauma prose.”

– Clifford Garstang, author of Oliver’s Travels and The Shaman of Turtle Valley

Shadow Dance is a powerful dance of language, a shadow of history, military trauma, and a unique coming-of-age tale of a man’s own past and attempt to move forward. Martin Ott has created yet another masterpiece full of suspense, beauty, and heart. This book is chilling, wonderful, a must.”

– Kim Chinquee, author of Snowdog

“Strange how the language of relationships can mimic that of war.” That’s Buddy, a/k/a West, leading this Shadow Dance like a spastic Astaire, and his musings go to the heart of Martin Ott’s imagining. A novel smeared by the torture in the Middle East, this Dance amounts finally to a twisted but miraculous cleansing, a rediscovery of love, by way of an eye-popping and wisecracking tour of the L.A. underworld. You’ve never had such fun at an exorcism. Martin Ott has created yet another masterpiece full of suspense, beauty, and heart.”

- John Domini, author of The Color Inside a Melon

“With crisp, gimlet-eyed storytelling, Martin Ott’s Shadow Dance dramatizes compellingly the tough truth that, whether you’re enlisted in Afghanistan, home in Louisiana, or trying to do right in Los Angeles, war never ends.”

- Mark Wish, author of Watch Me Go, founding editor of Coolest American Stories

“‘Something bad’s going to happen,’ one Shadow Dance character remarks to West, a man who picked up his name on the run, heading west. The protagonist wonders how he knows. ‘Because something bad is always going to happen.’ And there you have it, the noir credo perfectly expressed, the central understanding in every dark thriller or hardboiled tale of the streets, and my oh my, does it express the tenor of our age. But among literature’s—and pulp fiction’s—empyrean of unforgettable tough guys, Martin Ott’s fascinating protagonist breaks the mold—a tormented, introspective empath and reader of Travis McGee detective stories tough guy.… Martin Ott’s prose weaves mood, velocity, grit and occasional concentrations of poetry. ‘Outside, the long day burned as though a distant fire was burning up the bowl of America.’ Shadow Dance joins the great tradition of novels that investigate dark corners within the light-filled city.”

- Suzanne Lummis, author of Open 24 Hours, Blue Lynx Poetry prize winner, host and creator of’s They Write by Night, a YouTube series exploring the connection between poetry and film noir.

“Ott’s prose crackles and sizzles. There’s never a dull moment, right to the riveting end. It’s the kind of novel Hemingway might have written had he been alive today.”

- Erik Martiny, author of Night of the Long Goodbyes