Praise for Whale Season
“Whale Season is purely delightful—rich, clever, and crawling with affectionately twisted characters. Nicole Kelby is a natural-born storyteller who manages to be very funny and very wise at the same time.” —Carl Hiaasen
“Kelby has created a crazy-quilt of unforgettable characters. You won’t find whales in Whale Harbor but you will find ancient bluesmen, alligators in Minnie Pearl hats, sexy strip club owners with dreams of franchising, floundering RV salesmen, and the wackiest serial killer in modern fiction. Strap yourself in, it’s one helluva ride.” —J. A. Konrath, author of Bloody Mary
“Poignant, hilarious, and melancholy, N. M. Kelby’s strikingly entertaining novel feels like being on a theme park ride with Carl Hiaasen as tour guide. This is the real deal.” —Will Staeger, bestselling author of Painkiller
Praise for N. M. Kelby’s Previous Work
“Kelby’s lovely language fuses sensuous specificity with metaphoric resonance. . . . To paraphrase and summarize such fine-spun fiction must inevitably be as inadequate as any attempt to retell your most amazing dream the morning after.” —New York Times Book Review
“Luscious and heartrending . . . overflows with miracles.” —Atlantic Monthly
From the Hardcover edition.
A late-night Christmas Eve card game with a Jesus impersonator triggers misadventures galore in Kelby's screwball comedy with a dark side. In the dinky town of Whale Season, a faded (and whale-free) Florida tourist trap, various citizens mull over the lows life's brought them to. Sheriff Trot Jeeter and his best friend/oldest rival, Leon, a used RV salesman, form a love square with Carlotta, Leon's erstwhile girlfriend, and Dagmar, the owner of a local strip club and Leon's ex-wife (Trot loves them both, but Carlotta most). After winning a luxury RV from "Jesus" in poker, Leon gets drunk and burns down his trailer; everyone figures he's dead. Meanwhile, Jesus (who's really a serial killer named Dr. Ricardo Garcia) has decided that Jimmy Ray (a musician at Dagmar's club-and likely her father) will be his next victim. The nonstop comedy jives weirdly with the characters' backstories and the threat of grisly murder, best exemplified during a scene in which Jesus vows to give Jimmy "the Hallmark Card of Death," Jimmy finally acknowledges his paternity and everyone, weeping with joy, decides to eat French toast. Shaggy, silly, a little bit soggy-but as a holiday diversion, this is mighty good fun. (It's also a big shift for Kelby, who, writing as Nicole Kelby, offered up the luminous, haunting In the Company of Angels in 2001.) (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
There is a land referred to by its residents as "heaven's waiting room" where the sunsets are as pink as a flamingo's rear end (or Pepto-Bismol). Yes, it's Florida, and Kelby (In the Company of Angels) proves there is indeed room for yet another Florida novel populated by zanies. The novel opens on Christmas day as Leon Pettit plays cards with a man claiming to be Jesus. At stake is an RV with all the trimmings that costs considerably more than a couple of doublewides. Leon wins, but he's convinced that it's the start of another bad day, since all the luck he's had in his life so far could be crammed comfortably into the tight jeans of the girl he's currently dating. And, sure enough, it turns out that Jesus is actually Dr. Ricardo Garcia, a Cuban/Polish doctor on a killing spree; or, as he likes to think of it, giving folks a leg up on salvation. Kelby manages to make the Florida shtick seem fresh and overlays it with a patina of spiritual yearning in a cross between the work of Carl Hiaasen and Christopher Moore. For all larger public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/05.]-Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Here's the wacky, tacky premise: A Jesus-impersonating serial killer rampages through Florida strip clubs and gator swamps. Kelby, who previously wrote sober novels revolving around World War II (Theater of the Stars, 2003, etc.), delivers black humor that sizzles. A cartoon Crime and Punishment in "Margaritaville," the book stars a sandal-shod, sheet-clad drifter calling himself "Jesus" who loses the American Dream in a poker game with Leon, a used-car dealer. The Dream, all gleaming chrome and glossy leatherette, is the world's most magnificent trailer, and its new owner, while festooning Christmas lights in its lush interior, catches fire as the big rig explodes. Or so the citizenry of Whale Harbor, one truly funky tourist trap, believes. Actually Leon has slunk out and disappeared. Burned but not cooked, he crawls to a hospital. There, convalescing, he's attacked by killer bees who buzz in through a window. His mind full of morphine, he hallucinates. The staff, overhearing his weird dreams and marveling at the hive that soon bedecks his bandaged head, dubs Leon "Bee-Jesus," and a desperate crowd lines up, expecting miracles. All the while, the first "Jesus" is on the lam and planning his 13th homicide. He's really Ricardo Gomez, a deranged Polish/Cuban former M.D. who sees murder as an act of mercy. Anyone he feels deserving either of blessing or of curse earns from him one savage ticket to the hereafter, in the form of poison or long knives. Along with "Jesus" and "Bee-Jesus," there are terrific mock-archetypal characters: the Legendary Bluesman, the Titty Bar Madonna, the Buff-But-Tender sheriff. And there's enough mad plot to hook most anyone. Deep-fried strangeness.