Mackerel Sky: A Novel

Mackerel Sky: A Novel

by Natalee Caple

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A novel of criminal intrigue, eccentric love and the power of women.

After a twenty-year absence, Guy Vidoq is returning home to meet his daughter for the first time. He discovers his mercurial daughter, Isabelle, has been raised in a bizzarre, cloistered environment by her libertine mother, Martine, who is now living with a young man, Harry, roughly the age


A novel of criminal intrigue, eccentric love and the power of women.

After a twenty-year absence, Guy Vidoq is returning home to meet his daughter for the first time. He discovers his mercurial daughter, Isabelle, has been raised in a bizzarre, cloistered environment by her libertine mother, Martine, who is now living with a young man, Harry, roughly the age of their daughter. If the intense, closed and sensual relationship of these three housemates wasn't bad enough, Guy soon discovers that the entire household is deeply enmeshed in a counterfeiting operation that produces fake American currency for the black market.

Extraordinarily intelligent, though volatile, Martine soon becomes the obsession of Guy, turning his world upside down. As they begin to rekindle their relationship, tension in the house rises. And when the counterfeiting operation begins to break down, everyone finds themselves in desperate situations as they are each drawn closer to the criminal underworld.

Compared to Milan Kundera, Leonard Cohen and Barbara Gowdy, Natalee Caple constructs an exquisite portrayal of the human psyche with a daring, provocative style. Reminiscent of crime films from the French New Wave, Mackerel Sky is a dark, thrilling novel about seduction, the intricate, often destructive relationship between parent and child, and the impulses of the heart.

Editorial Reviews

Richard Lipez
Successfully mixing violence, humor and heedless eroticism is a rare knack that few Americans possess -- or should, many would argue. But Caple has the French gift in spades, like some amazing, refreshing throwback to the New Wave era.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Poor Guy Vidoq: he has no idea what he's in for when he returns to Canada after 20 years. He wants to meet his daughter, Isabelle, and see his old love, Martine, whom he left after he impregnated her (he was 16, she 25)-but this is no ordinary reunion. Martine is a counterfeiter with a wild sex drive and a suicidal streak who's going to get Guy into all kinds of trouble, much of it with his pants down. Isabelle is a difficult beauty, and Harry, Martine's younger lover, would sooner spit on Guy than look at him. Sex, violence and poetic imagery make intriguing bedfellows in Canadian writer Caple's (The Plight of Happy People) American debut. Martine's and Guy's fathers were smugglers together, and while Guy lived cleanly in Boston, he's back in the game soon enough. Caple crafts an inventive, sometimes frustrating novel, part bizarre domestic drama and part crime thriller, as Guy tries to navigate the world he's stuck in (thanks to injuries suffered after having sex in a tree with Martine). Interesting secondary characters include the fastidious gay assassins, Jules and Jim, who are in on the operation. Caple is also a poet, and her language both sings and suffers for it (" `Your heart sounds like my mother chopping radishes' " being an example of the latter); this is an unusual novel of intrigue indeed. Agent, Hilary McMahon. (Sept. 22) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The American debut of Canadian novelist and poet Caple is a Montreal-set thriller about the rise and fall of a family of counterfeiters. Guy Vidoq's family, if not exactly mobsters, have traditionally stood on the wrong side of the law: Guy's father, for example, made a living by smuggling illegal aliens into Canada and the US. Guy himself is more retiring than his forebears and has lived quietly for the last 20 years in Boston, where he fled as a 16-year-old to escape his older girlfriend Martine (who had just given birth to his daughter Isabelle). Now Guy has come back to Montreal to meet Isabelle for the first time and reestablish relations with Martine, who, for the past five years, has been living with her 22-year-old lover, Harry. With the exception of Harry, who hates him on first sight, the reunion goes pretty well: Guy hits it off with Isabelle from the start, and he's promptly seduced by Martine, whose proclivity for making love in trees or parking lots may be a signal of something that's lost on Guy. As he recuperates from the broken foot he earned in one of Martine's trysts, he comes to depend increasingly upon Isabelle, who soon cheerfully describes to him the counterfeiting business she and her mother run with Harry. Shocked and fearful for his daughter's safety, Guy tries to convince the two to give up the scam, but instead he's drawn into it himself. There'll be two pairs of hit-men (one gay, one straight), an annual shipment nearing its deadline, a half-comic bank robbery with bizarre and deadly consequences, and a secluded hotel on the Ile d'Orleans-all of these impinging upon Guy and his family to create a great deal of trouble in the end. A black-tinged caper narratednicely in quick short chapters that waste little time in setting scenes as they move the tale along. Agent: Hilary McMahon/Westwood Creative Artists

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St. Martin's Press
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Read an Excerpt

Mackerel Sky

A Novel

By Caple, Natalee

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2004

Caple, Natalee

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0312330243

There was a time when I thought a great deal about money. Then one day instead of going to my office I visited the aquarium. I found myself standing in front of a tank, staring at the seahorses hovering beneath the exit sign. Their spiny, white bodies looked like question marks carved out of ice, suspended in the seaweed behind the dirty glass. A sign under the tank said that it is the male seahorse who becomes pregnant after sex. And then, in just a little while, they release tiny, glassy replicas of their own bodies from a swollen pocket on their bellies. I stared at one obvious pregnant steed and I thought to myself, I don't know anything about the world. I don't know anything.

Copyright 2004 by Natalee Caple


Excerpted from Mackerel Sky
by Caple, Natalee
Copyright © 2004 by Caple, Natalee.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

Natalee Caple launched her Canadian literary career in 1998 with her debut story collection The Heart Is Its Own Reason, which captured the attention of the New York Times Book Review and garnered high international praise. She is the author of one previous novel, The Plight of Happy People in an Ordinary World, as well as a collection of poetry entitled A More Tender Ocean and coeditor of The Notebook: Interviews and New Fiction from Contemporary Writers. Mackerel Sky is her American debut.

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