During World War II, Wayne Ogden, the narrator of The Adjustment, Scott Phillips' latest novel, was a supply sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps in London and Rome. He was also a thief, a pimp, maybe a murderer and a truly awful human being, though Ogden would probably tell you that he's really just a man who knows how to take his opportunities where he finds them. He made out pretty well, home early with a Purple Heart, an honorable discharge and five grand in Uncle Sam's cash stashed in the basement safe. But now Ogden is finding postwar Wichita a little...quiet. Ostensibly a PR man at Collins Aircraft, Ogden has a job description that doesn't quite fit his title, as his main task is to escort his dirty old goat of a boss on alcoholic benders around town. Meanwhile, on the home front, Ogden's gorgeous wife, Sally, has a bun in the oven. Though the "adjustment" of the title refers to the age-old challenge faced by returning vets as they get used to life back home, this is a far cry from The Best Years of Our Lives. Phillips' novel is a brilliant work of noir, narrated in an Ogden deadpan that at times pokes the ghost of Raymond Chandler. Phillips' place of residence qualifies The Adjustment for this "Best of St. Louis" honor, but regardless of where he chose to hang his hat, his book would rank among the best published this year.
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