Scavenger Reef

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When Augie Silver disappeared at sea during a sudden storm, it was a loss felt initially by his young wife and by his crew of drinking cronies. When word of his apparent drowning extended beyond the Key West world Augie had made his home, however, his loss was felt by a greater number of people. For Augie Silver was a painter, or more precisely an artist, waiting for recognition. And his death proved to be the event necessary to turn a lifetime of eccentricity into a career of genius. Suddenly Augie was hot. ...
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Overview

When Augie Silver disappeared at sea during a sudden storm, it was a loss felt initially by his young wife and by his crew of drinking cronies. When word of his apparent drowning extended beyond the Key West world Augie had made his home, however, his loss was felt by a greater number of people. For Augie Silver was a painter, or more precisely an artist, waiting for recognition. And his death proved to be the event necessary to turn a lifetime of eccentricity into a career of genius. Suddenly Augie was hot. While his wife, Nina, continued to mourn, his friends began to awaken to the realization that all those paintings Augie had given them over the years might have been worth holding on to. In fact, according to the New York art dealer who was also Augie's agent, they might be worth a whole lot. So when Augie returns from the "dead," having been shipwrecked on an island off Cuba, it is with somewhat mixed emotions that he is welcomed home. His wife is jubilant, but all those who had read dollar signs in Augie's obituary aren't too sure how happy they are to have him back, especially since each of them seems to need an influx of cash in the worst way. And when mysterious things start happening to Augie, little "accidents" that seem less than accidental, he's not too sure how happy he is to be back either. With the help, however, of his wife and their fiercely loyal houseboy, Reuben the Cuban, Augie fights for his life a second time around while seeking out the would-be killer. From the author of Florida Straits, a critically acclaimed story of suspense also set in Key West, Scavenger Reef is a funny, dark, and vastly entertaining novel all about life, death, and the stages in between, written with wit and charm, and filled with unforgettable characters.

How much is a painting by artist Augie Silver worth? A small fortune, if Augie is dead, and his agent is salivating over the prospect. Some say Augie drowned. But some say he's still alive, and ready to paint again. Those who want to cash in on Augie's new fame will do everything they can to make sure Augie stays dead as the price of his art goes through the roof.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following up his hilarious Florida Straits , Shames delivers another dose of criminal high jinks in relentlessly bohemian Key West, although this tale falls a little short of the first's full measure of fun. The questionable artistic merit of iconoclastic painter Augie Silver doesn't matter much while he's still alive--not to him, his lovely wife and local smalltime gallery owner Nina, nor to their gay houseboy Reuben. But when Augie's ship fails to return to harbor after a January sail, things quickly change. Those with Augie Silver art in their possession contemplate their sudden wealth. One considers the purchase of charter boats, another support of his floundering poetic career, a third a new wardrobe of black clothing. Further up the economic scale, a New York gallery owner and her bankrupt husband anticipate high profits as they make a quick grab for all the available Silver pieces. Then Augie returns from his watery grave. Surely prices will drop. Oh, if only Augie were really and truly dead. Such authors as Carl Hiassen and Elmore Leonard also mine the venal weirdness of the Sunshine State, but Shames offers sharp-edged parody without a trace of meanness, portraying his craven cast with a bold, new affection. Perhaps it was only the newness that made the earlier story seem fresher than this. Readers will look forward to the next tale to find out. Feb.
Wes Lukowsky
Augie Silver is a successful Key West artist whose work brings a decent, if not extraordinary, price at the finer New York galleries. Then Augie, an avid sailor, disappears into the Carribean. His wife, Nina, grieves, and his friends hoist a few to his memory. Meanwhile, Augie's agent organizes a retrospective exhibit of the Silver collection; the show is a huge success, and the value of Augie's art goes through the roof, prompting the painter's friends to realize that the pictures hanging on their walls, largely gifts from their pal Augie, are now worth a fortune. Hold everything! Here's Augie, alive again. His boat broke apart in a storm, but he floated ashore and, after a bout of amnesia, has finally returned to his beloved Nina. She's overjoyed, but Augie's friends--seeing their anticipated pile of lucre shrink--aren't so sure. Soon Arnie's life is in danger again--this time from someone trying to protect his or her investment. Carefully drawn characters--Key West eccentrics, mostly--and a languid, poetic style combine with a clever plot for an unusual and very entertaining mystery.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440217978
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2008

    Surprise, Surprise

    I must admit that I had no idea what this novel was about when I began reading-I hadn't read any reviews/opinions dealing with the book. I was pleasantly surprised. Florida Noir being my favorite genre, this fit in well with the rest of my past reading. A painter, whose works are worthless while he's alive become coveted when he's dead, and there are some who want to cash in on the increase in value-typical Florida con artists. People who watch Antiques Roadshow would find this book enjoyable-so many of the paintings that people bring in to the show fall into the same category of an increased value when the artist is deceased but may have been worth very little while alive. The only joker in the deck in Scavenger Reef, though, is that Augie Silver, the artist happens to be still alive-oops! It's a very good book to read for some lighthearted fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Dawn

    Claimed land.

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