Customer Reviews for

Queen of the Underworld

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2007

    A reviewer

    Emma Gant has a huge appetite for life! She's just graduated from college and landed a coveted job as a reporter at the Miami Star newspaper. Anxious to escape having to return to her stepfather's physical and sexual abuse, she's put plenty of energy into getting as far away from him as she can, albeit regretting the whole situation for her mother whom she dearly loves. But enthusiasm hardly prepares Emma for what she will meet in steaming, multicultural Miami. Yes, she's got an older lover there already but she's still unprepared for the cutthroat competition she will meet in the journalistic world. Starting out writing miniscule obit and hospital reports, she manages in the two weeks in which this novel takes place to discover the secrets behind the Miami Mafia, Cuban exiles shipping illegal arms as dental equipment back to Cuba during the time of Fidel Castro's rise to power, and the sad story behind an ex-Madam of a whorehouse. Although much that happens in the space of these two weeks, it's all pretty much covered on the surface without much development. But one must place one's self within the context of a woman working a new job in the man's world of the 1960s. Keeping that in mind, Emma's propulsion into all of this worldly activity certainly makes sense and makes for interesting reading. She's a gutsy character who rises from her losses prepared to tackle whatever challenges come her way. The only thing that doesn't make much sense is her falling for an older guy, given her negative background with her stepfather. Given the rapidly changing world of the 60's generation, though, Emma Gant (catch the literary parallels with Jane Austin and Thomas Wolfe's characters) certainly gets an education about rich Cuban exiles now floating in memories and little else, the 'Lucifer-like' world of journalism, but most of all dreaming big no matter what the world tosses one's way Interesting story that has plenty of zip in spots! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on March 18, 2007

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    interesting look at 1960s Miami

    In 1959, having just graduated college and unable to stay under the domineering control of her parents, Emma Gant leaves North Carolina by train to start as a reporter at the Miami Star at a time when the southern city is a hot bed of Cuban exiles. Adding to her self imposed exile to southern Florida is her married lover Miami Beach nightclub owner Paul Nightingale lives there. --- In Miami she takes a room at the Julia Tuttle Hotel where Emma meets Cuban families who fled Castro¿s revolution. Life is exciting for Emma as she learns how to be a real journalist mentored by professionals at the Star and much about Cuba before and during the Castro conquest. Struggling with influences that pull at the young reporter, Emma meets a horde of people impacted by Castro¿s Communist revolution especially a non-journalist life mentor former madam Ginevra Brown, THE QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD. --- This is an interesting look at Miami at a time of turmoil that has turned the city and much of Southern Florida upside down. The support cast is solid and eccentric adding a touch of time and place to what the rookie reporter observes as everyday people do non-ordinary tasks. The heroine is also well drawn as more of an observer who has broken the prime directive of not getting involved in the story. However, the influx of sidebars like segments in Spanish and newspaper articles may augment the realism, but disrupts the flow of the story line though overall Gail Godwin provides a fine look at 1960s Miami. --- Harriet Klausner

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