A Better Goodbye


by John Schulian

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When the destinies of a haunted boxer, an ambitious hooker, a failed actor, and a cold-blooded criminal collide head-on at a high-end massage parlor, nobody walks away unscathed. And neither will you.
—Richard Lange, author of Angel Baby and Sweet Nothing


Jenny Yee thought she was finished with the high-end massage business the day two co-workers were raped and robbed. But that isn’t how the world turns when the glitz of Los Angeles gives way to potholed streets and every dream comes with scuffmarks.

Rotten luck thrusts Jenny back into the sex trade, where she finds an unlikely protector in Nick Pafko, an ex-boxer haunted by a tragedy in the ring. Jenny and Nick work for Scott Crandall, once a B-list TV star, now a pimp. But Crandall envisions a new role for himself as he tries to wheedle his way into the world of a prison-hardened sociopath named Onus DuPree Jr.

DuPree burns with criminal intent, and the higher the flame inside him grows, the more combustible A Better Goodbye becomes. This first novel by sportswriter and TV writer-producer John Schulian erupts when Jenny and Nick are swept up in a robbery scheme concocted by DuPree, who doesn’t sweat the small stuff – like who lives or dies.

Here is L.A. noir for the twenty-first century, always honest, seldom kind.


“This visceral, gritty noir takes place on the seedy fringes of modern Hollywood. The dialogue is razor sharp, and the characters well developed—the good-hearted Nick is easy to root for. A robbery triggers a grisly showdown as this thriller hurtles toward its nail-biting conclusion.”
—Publishers Weekly

“In his latest contribution to literature Schulian tackles a new genre — noir fiction — and battles it to a lively draw… .A hard punching page-turner.”

“Schulian sketches mood, scene, and character with deft strokes. A Better Goodbye offers a seamy panorama of Los Angeles. Schulian knows its neighborhoods from top to bottom, and he surrounds Nick and Jenny with a large cast of characters who seem unique to L.A. in their collective miasma. You couldn’t get a more authentic sense of the city today.”
—Arts Journal

“Schulian is a former Chicago sports journalist who relocated to L.A. … and his first novel tells the tales of a boxer haunted by the man he killed in the ring … .As a low-key look at L.A. lowlife, this has its strong passages.”

A Better Goodbye is a peek at the grit beneath the glitter of the the Southern California myth. For every winner in L.A., there are a thousand losers, and this book tells a few of their stories, the ones you don’t see on Entertainment Tonight. When the destinies of a haunted boxer, an ambitious hooker, a failed actor, and a cold-blooded criminal collide head-on at a high-end massage parlor, nobody walks away unscathed. And neither will you.”
—Richard Lange, author of Angel Baby and Sweet Nothing

“A brilliant rendering of the dark side of L.A. We meet Nick, a battered but soulful ex-boxer haunted by his past; Jenny, a smart and sensitive Korean masseuse who is saving money to finish college at UCLA; her sleazy, comic boss Scott, a washed-up actor; and DuPree, a stone killer who is looking to score big. It is John Schulian’s brilliance as a writer that brings all these characters vibrantly alive. I cared and worried about them as they headed toward an inevitable showdown. Every writer I know loves Schulian’s journalism and now he’s proved he can pull off the same the same magic as a novelist. If you dig Elmore Leonard, you’re really going to dig A Better Goodbye.”
—Robert Ward, author of Red Baker and Renegades

“After a long and notable career as a sportswriter and television writer-producer, John Schulian has penned A Better Goodbye, a debut novel that delivers a wallop, and not just because a protagonist is an ex-boxer who once killed a man in the ring. “…Goodbye” is a searing examination of lost souls, wrong turns, and forgotten dreams. It’s a collision between the haves and have-nots, the has-beens, the wanna-bes, and the never-will-bes. Set in the sex trade that straddles the worlds of entertainment and crime, the novel is L.A. noir at its most keenly observed. Think Michael Connelly meets Elmore Leonard for a Metro ride from Universal City to Compton. Settle back, enjoy the view and listen to the sizzling dialogue. In Schulian’s world, nearly everyone has an angle in the hopelessly misnamed City of Angels. A confident, well-paced debut that will make you yearn for Schulian’s next novel.”
—Paul Levine, author of Bum Rap


With A Better Goodbye, John Schulian makes his debut as a novelist after a long and much-honored career as a journalist, sports writer and TV writer-producer. He was a nationally syndicated sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and twice was hailed by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the country’s best sports writer. The Village Voice praised his work as “brilliant,” bestselling novelist William Brashler called his prose “a cross between Dashiell Hammett and F. Scott Fitzgerald,” and the Boxing Writers Association of America honored him with the Nat Fleischer Award for excellence in boxing journalism. He has also been a sports commentator for NPR’s Weekend Edition, a special contributor to Sports Illustrated, and a familiar byline in such publications as GQ, Inside Sports, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Oxford American. Schulian broke into TV with a script for L.A. Law and wrote for such iconic crime dramas as Miami Vice and Wiseguy before he co-created the international hit Xena: Warrior Princess. He is the author of three collections of his sports writing – Writers’ Fighters & Other Sweet Scientists, Twilight of the Long-ball Gods and Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand – and the editor of two Library of America anthologies, At the Fights (with George Kimball) and Football. His short fiction has appeared on the websites Thuglit and The Classic and in the Prague Revue.

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