Posts Tagged ‘South Florida’

In the opening pages of John Dufresne’s newest novel, No Regrets, Coyote (Norton, $25.95), protagonist Wylie “Coyote” Melville, a therapist and volunteer forensic consultant, gets a call from his friend, Everglades County police detective Carlos O’Brien, to size up a murder-suicide case. Known for his highly developed empathy and intuition, Wylie’s often brought in to spot evidence the cops might otherwise miss.

“I could read minds,” he says, “even if those minds weren’t present.”

Or not alive.

At first glance, it looks as if restaurateur Chafin Halliday has killed his wife, his three children, and then turned the gun on himself. The police are ready to close the case. But what Wylie sees at the crime scene persuades him to investigate further, and he enlists the support of his friend Bay Lettique, poker-player and magician extraordinaire.

A man who can make a parakeet in your iPhone fly out and land on his shoulder, Bay explains why the average person misses the magic of sleight-of-hand: “I tell you I’m going to lie to you, and then I lie to you, and you believe it. Because you want to believe.”

And with that claim, Dufresne defines the action in this shapeshifting thriller. While Wylie and Bay take on the bad guys, what’s running in the margins is a meditation on much larger issues of identity, loss and duality. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Best known for Louisiana Power and Light (1994) and Requiem Mass (2009), Dufresne now joins the venerable ranks of South Florida crime writers — Carl Hiassen, James W. Hall, and the late, great Elmore Leonard come to mind — with a think-piece of a mystery that keeps asking, as any good psychoanalyst would, “And why is that?” (more…)

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Florida native Susanna Daniel (Stiltsville) returns to the watery world of her first book with the story of a young mother navigating the responsibilities and risks of parenthood.

In the summer of 1992, Georgia Quillian, her husband Graham, and three-year-old Frankie moved from Illinois to make a fresh start in her hometown of Coral Gables, Fla. Eight years later, Georgia relives that summer, and in the course of Sea Creatures (Harper, $25.99), the events that led up to it.

Graham suffers from a rare sleep disorder that leads to wandering at night, and Frankie has inexplicably stopped speaking. So when they move into a houseboat, even Georgia admits that it’s “a peculiar choice for any family, but especially for us.”

Promising that life on the water will be “an adventure,” Graham brushes aside her fears, and they settle in, he at a nearby oceanography institute, and Georgia as a part-time gofer and curator for a reclusive local artist, Charlie Hicks.

With Frankie in tow, Georgia learns to drive a borrowed two-seater boat across the bay to Charlie’s house in Stiltsville, a collection of wooden houses raised on pilings off the shores of Key Biscayne. From their very first visit, Georgia sees how “Frankie might … tumble down the stairs or off the dock.” When he disappears at one point, she signs to him, “I have to be able to see you all the time.”

In a story overflowing with the ways life tests us, regardless of how vigilantly we scour the horizon for danger, Georgia finds that “to be a parent is terrifying… But it seems to me that what worries us most — pedophiles, kidnappers, dog attacks — is least likely to happen, while what is most likely is some unimagined event. And how do we prepare for that?” (more…)

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