Island Tempest

Overview

Frank Pitchard has recently been leading a quiet, rather depressed existence-even though he lives on Eden, an exclusive resort island community off the coast of Florida. Forced into retirement after his company was taken over and "reorganized," he spends his days sitting outside, reading The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook, thinking about his loving deceased wife, and dreaming up ways to get back at the corporate raiders. One bright spot is the lithe and beautiful Ariel, his wife's nurse, who's been hanging...

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Overview

Frank Pitchard has recently been leading a quiet, rather depressed existence-even though he lives on Eden, an exclusive resort island community off the coast of Florida. Forced into retirement after his company was taken over and "reorganized," he spends his days sitting outside, reading The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook, thinking about his loving deceased wife, and dreaming up ways to get back at the corporate raiders. One bright spot is the lithe and beautiful Ariel, his wife's nurse, who's been hanging around since her death. Another is Randi, an Eden trophy wife currently between husbands. She gives Frank a set of binoculars and introduces him to bird-watching. However, Frank uses the binoculars to spy on Cal Barlow, his crippled next-door neighbor, and one day sees him sitting in his wheelchair, cradling a blue-steel pistol.

The two men strike up a friendship soon afterward, when Cal happens upon Frank pushing a golf cart into the lake. An odd partnership develops. What Frank doesn't know is that Cal is an ex-mobster in witness protection-and that he's sleeping with Randi right under Frank's nose. And Cal doesn't seem to realize that there's an assassin on his tail and that the Feds aren't far behind.

In this wicked and sharply drawn tale of the shady places between good and evil, Michael Mewshaw once again proves himself to be a storyteller of boundless talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Kevin Allman
All this Tempest in a subdivision ends a bit too patly, but Mewshaw's shrewd eye -- for his characters, their flaws and desires, and Florida itself -- never blinks.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Mewshaw (Shelter from the Storm, etc.) carves out a piece of Florida retirement turf for this leisurely thriller, in which a crippled ex-con and his widower neighbor join forces to become unlikely partners in crime. "Not your usual SMOPs, the Slow-Moving Old People, the shrunken, sun-crusted peanuts who plugged the arteries of the rest of Florida," Mewshaw writes about the residents of Eden, the upscale island where his two damaged protagonists live. Frank Pritchard, a sad and bitter former executive who helped create Eden but was forced out of the company while his wife was dying, reads The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook for pleasure. In the house next door, Cal Barlow-a mysterious paraplegic protected by a federal witness program-copes with his troubles in more physical ways. Ariel, a South African physical therapist, and Randi, a "trophy wife currently between husbands," round off the quartet, as Frank and Cal become friends and allies. Frank is determined to get revenge on his former colleagues, and Cal has plenty of advice to give. In the end, however, it's Cal's past that catches up with the duo. Mewshaw has an uncanny ear for dialogue and razor-sharp descriptive powers, but too little happens in this sun-baked crime caper. Agent, Timothy Seldes at Russell & Volkening. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the exclusive Florida community of Eden Isle live alligators, wealthy retirees of various levels of tumescence and senility, and possibly a lone panther. While nursing his terminally ill wife a year ago, resident Frank Pritchard was eased out of his CEO position by a maverick board of directors. To keep active, he's taken to playing retaliatory pranks on those who laid him off (e.g., spraying graffiti on selected houses). One day, he spots a recruit for his little hijinks, the paraplegic Cal Barlow, who appears to be packing a Beretta pistol under his wheelchair cushion. What Frank doesn't know is that Cal is a mobster in the witness protection program. Mewshaw's tenth novel (after Shelter from the Storm) is Bret Easton Ellis for the 60 Minutes crowd. Social commentary aplenty and easy readability make it a good bet for baby boomers pondering their own futures. For larger public libraries.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Undercover goings-on at an exclusive Florida gated community. One would imagine there'd be pretty much nothing happening on the happy little fictional isle of Eden, a haven just off the Florida coast for richer-than-Croesus types who want to live in a place that's "like a Caribbean resort only without the poverty, dodgy politics and truculent natives"-and one would pretty much be right. But that doesn't stop Mewshaw (Shelter From the Storm; Do I Owe You Something?: A Memoir of the Literary Life, both 2002) from trying to rustle something up. At the eye of the yuppified storm is Frank Pritchard, a retired CEO forced out of his company by some less-than-ethical types, whose loving wife died not so long ago. He spends his days talking with his friend, the Black Widow-like Randi Dickson, hanging out with his dead wife's therapist (whom he likely has feelings for), and thinking about killing himself. His neighbor is Cal Barlow, a wheelchair-bound loner who plays around with his pistol when he thinks nobody is watching. Frank and Cal strike up a friendship, the two becoming interested romantically in Randi at about the same time, and, all the while, Cal's secret identity, that of a drug dealer in the Witness Protection Program, is about to blow up in his face. The story noodles along at first, content with the easygoing rhythms of Cal and Frank's friendship, the sunny idleness of Eden's vacuous luxury, and its residents' ill-hidden fear of the outside world and, indeed, reality. But when Frank decides to stir things up a bit by going on an ill-advised graffiti campaign around the island, unwanted attention is the result-and things decline from there. Mewshaw has an easier way with his storythis time, his tenth outing, than in his last: little here feels forced, and the context is so powerfully evoked it overwhelms what little plot there is. Enjoyably dozy and slight, like a long afternoon in the south Florida sun.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399152214
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/7/2004
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Mewshaw is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels and half a dozen successful books of nonfiction. Mewshaw lives in Key West and Europe.

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