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Posted May 29, 2011
The Book Report: Newly minted police lieutenant, newly middle aged, and eternally insomniac Thomas Senestre of the bright lights and fleshpots of Jackson City, North Carolina, gets a really weird, smelly letter from a woman who claims to be an old friend of his neglectful, estranged (and very strange) mother the serial monogamist. Please, she begs, come to Pantego and find whoever is stalking me! I'm a scared old lady, wafts on a cloud of lilac perfume into Thomas's sleep-deprived brain cells. He doesn't remember his mother mentioning the lady; but then again, he doesn't think much of his mother, nor about her either. He is fresh from failing to identify a revoltingly mutilated floater that washed up on a reedy stretch of beach, and that's not helping his insomnia. His best friend/fellow lush is the town mortician, who steadfastly refuses Thomas's pleas to let him see the floater again. So, well, since he's so fixated on this urpsome subject, he sees the sense of traveling up the coast to help his mother's friend with her problem. Which, from the minute he gets out of his weird French car in Pantego, he strongly suspects is a fake, a put-up job to commandeer attention by a gracelessly aging once-beauty. So off he goes, our hero, tromping the streets of a rainy tourist town just before the season officially begins. In his wanderings he meets a member of the local constabulary, a couple of tourists, a couple of bartenders, a chatty old man with a dribbly old beagle, the tough, Amazonian lesbian lover of his supposed client, a *seriously* strange ex-TV star, and an unnervingly perky room clerk from Hell. There's a parade, a sub-lethal poisoning, a cat-kicking (go Thomas!), a claustrophobic freak-out, and no sleep. What happens at the end of the book is a grisly surprise. No spoilers. But it's grisly. My Review: What never happens in this book is an investigation conducted by Thomas of anything much. He suspects, rightly, that his client is lying about being stalked. Thomas exerts no effort to look into the matter, but wanders from pillar to post and talks to people in monosyllables and grunts. He meets the local cop, chats with him, asks no questions of any import, and then wanders away. He does this with several people. He solves nothing, really, since events unfold in a dire and tragic way in front of his and the town's eyes, no thanks or blame attaching to him. This, ladies and gentlemen, isn't a mystery. But it is, and very much so, a great set-up with an engaging character, set in a fresh venue, and postiviely creaking with quirks and oddities for the main character and his hometown Scooby-group. It's written in a snappy, punch noir-ish style, and it's got some wonderful snark built right in. All these things I liked. Oh, and the cat-kicking was pretty cool too. But, I kept whimpering, what about...and where is...didn't she say...doesn't that make him...ad nearly infinitum. I like the book in spite of my crotchets with the missed opportunities. In the end, well, if you would like to travel to an unfamiliar small-town milieu with dark and rainy streets, mean and nasty people, a confused and damaged protagonist, and some gruesomely dead bodies, c'mon in! Water's fine!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.