Mangrove Squeeze

Mangrove Squeeze

4.5 2
by Laurence Shames
     
 

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Suki Sperakis - like most denizens of Key West - came to town with one thing in mind and ended up doing something completely different. Now she's tired of selling ad space for a second-rate newspaper and fending off Lazlo Kalyanin, the Russian immigrant playboy who fancies her. Aaron Katz migrated south to run a simple bed-and-breakfast, to make an easy life for

Overview

Suki Sperakis - like most denizens of Key West - came to town with one thing in mind and ended up doing something completely different. Now she's tired of selling ad space for a second-rate newspaper and fending off Lazlo Kalyanin, the Russian immigrant playboy who fancies her. Aaron Katz migrated south to run a simple bed-and-breakfast, to make an easy life for himself and his father, but the realities of broken pipes and hollow walls -- not to mention a wistful kiss on the cheek from Suki -- make him wonder if life back in New York wasn't simpler after all. Then Suki misses a date and disappears, Lazlo turns up with his throat cut, and Aaron takes off into the mangroves to find the truth and possibly just a little bit of love.

"Funny, elegantly written, and hip." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mixing crime and comedy in Key West into fluffy confections has worked well for Shames, but his latest (after Virgin Heat) falls a little flat. Maybe it's because the ingredients are so familiar: a spunky young woman who sells ads for a local handout but yearns to break a big story; an earnest ex-Wall Streeter who runs a struggling guest house; a gaggle of Russian mobsters skimming American cream at the ocean's edge. Toss in a pair of philosophical drifters living in an abandoned giant hot dog and a couple of old men in various stages of eccentricity and you've got a book with a terminal case of the cutes. There are bright moments: when Mangrove Arms owner Aaron Katz wakes at 5 a.m. "because the woman who was supposed to do the breakfast called to say her tattoo had started bleeding underneath her skin and she couldn't work that day." Or when Aaron's half-batty father overhears some Russian-speakers in a Key West bar and is transported back to his East European youth. Or when Suki Sperakis, New Jersey's gift to Key West journalism, tries to convince a local cop to call in the FBI after she has been strangled and left for dead by a Russian who runs a chain of T-shirt shops ("The FBI? Suki, jampacked 747s are falling from the sky, large public buildings are being blown off their foundations, small wars are being fought against skinhead lunatics in Idaho and Texas, and I'm supposed to call the FBI because you don't like the T-shirt shops?"). Sad to say, it would take many more such moments to make this light, trite souffl stand. $250,000 ad/promo; special promotion in which 10 booksellers will win a trip to Key West. (Mar.)
Library Journal
David Hunter's reading and character accents add to the atmosphere of this amusing tale of Key West. Aaron Katz moved from New York City to Key West with his father to refurbish and run a bed-and-breakfast. Suki Serakis's latest job is selling ad space in the Island Frigate, but she's weary of the job and of the attention of Lazlo Kalyanin, a Russian immigrant who fancies himself a playboy. Add to the mix organized crime, two men who live in a hot-dog stand, kitschy T-shirt shops, dead bodies, and bombs and the result is an entertaining mix of quirky characters in an amusing mystery. Recommended for popular fiction collections.Denise A. Garofalo, Mid-Hudson Lib. Sys., Poughkeepsie, NY
Veale
Fans of Laurence Shames's five previous Key West thrillers will feel right at home with the menagerie of misfits and dreamers that populates "Mangrove Squeeze." -- Scott Veale, New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Shames's latest installment of Key West criminal follies is diverting but not up to the high standards of Virgin Heat (1997). Aaron Katz, all too successful in mergers and acquisitions, has left Wall Street for Key West to try some things he's not very good atfixing up a guest house, taking care of his fading father Sam, and maybe restarting his sex life. The very first person he hits on, ever so deferentially, is Suki Sperakis, who's left New Jersey for Key West to work at a crummy jobselling advertising for the weekly Island Frigatewhile in search of the good life. Instrumental to Suki's vision of said life is ditching persistent suitor Lazslo Kalynin, a Russian ‚migr‚ who thinks Suki is too stupid to see that his eight T-shirt stores must be a front for something. Lazslo's uncle, Gennady Petrovich Markov, and his colleague Ivan Fyodorovich Cherkassky have left Russia for Key West in search of easy money-laundering, criminal contacts, and some unspecified big dark score. Pineapple and Fred, who seem to have sprouted from the Key West beach like sand crabs, aren't looking for anything, though Piney does wonder about the big questions, like whether lizards have a sense of time. One day, Suki, who wouldn't mind being a reporter instead of an ad rep, asks panting Lazslo one question too many about his T-shirt income, and before you know it the plot has kicked into Carl Hiaasen territory. This time, though, the criminal intrigue that draws all these wackos together seems more dutiful than inspired; the wackos themselves aren't all that wacky (though Shames provides his share of bright moments); the crooks aren't dangerous enough to make you worry about the heroes; and the plot lacks themad logic so necessary to farce. The result, compared to Hiaasen's (or Shames's) best, is positively austere: a handsome but disappointingly juiceless basket of grapefruit that'll leave you looking forward to next year's bushel. ($250,000 ad/promo)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345433060
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/1999
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.88(h) x 0.81(d)

Meet the Author

Laurence Shames is the author of five previous novels: Florida Straits, Scavenger Reef, Sunburn, Tropical Depression, and Virgin Heat. With his wife, Marilyn, he divides his time between Key West and Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

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Mangrove Squeeze 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To read the reviews by the 'pros' here one would think that Shames had fallen into a trap that 'series' authors encounter often - they grow too fond of their principal characters. The only recurring character here, the likable 'Bert the Shirt', plays a supporting role and is shown to be all too human. Here Shames abandons some of the more humurous aspects of prior novels to concentrate on character development and scene-setting. The plot moves briskly and seamlessly. The Russian 'mobsters' are less menacing than their Mafia counterparts in prior novels but there are still plenty of moments of suspense. If you have read the entire series, this may well turn out to be one of your favorites. A little less like Hiaasen, a little more like James W. Hall, than his prior Key West tomes, but this is not a negative, just a change. The wit is still there, and this book is a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago