A SOUTHERN SOLUTION by Alan Beck

A SOUTHERN SOLUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A retired psychiatrist heads to Puerto Vallarta to escape the crumbling American dream and runs into a nightmare of FBI agents, avaricious businessmen and global invasions in this satire drunk with political jabs and comic escapades.

Happily enjoying his extended vacation within a stone’s throw of Puerto Vallarta’s Malecón, Dr. Steve Kopfklopper is returning from the airport when a stranger atop a Harley rides into his life. “I feel like I’m entering some fairy tale,” Steve says, and indeed he is: a wicked, sardonic one in which the U.S. government and a Chinese businessman named Wen Chu vie for his skills and his loyalties. The stranger turns out to be LaTroy South, an oversexed FBI agent assigned to recruit the retired doc and wannabe author as a double agent. When Steve finds South in his condo—along with a mysteriously stocked fridge—it’s just the beginning of an adventure that unfolds in an at-times bewildering and ever-increasingly absurdist fashion. Sexy women for hire, a suspicious sheep farm, a bumbling interpreter who may not be as hapless as he seems, and a lot of talk about circumcision are only a sampling of the factors that combine to turn Kopfklopper’s resort-town idyll into a manic and entertaining entanglement. Author Beck has captured the sensory delights and real-life details of sunny Puerto Vallarta, and his swift pacing and snappy dialogue mix well with a backdrop of crowded beaches and boardwalks, cobblestone streets, Mexican beer and señoritas in skimpy clothing. All this, however, only makes for an amusing vehicle through which to present the author’s disillusioned, libertarian viewpoint of the state of American life and politics, and he doesn’t miss any opportunity to throw in jabs about Medicare, entitlements, HIPAA, Rick Perry and the current “President Omar.” The commentary is obvious but not necessary, not when you have a plot to save the U.S. economy by, among other schemes, selling off states to a wealthy Chinese mogul, who plans to turn Illinois into a vast prison and California into a mental institution. The ending is clever, though it falls a bit short of expectations.

Readers of all political persuasions will find something that resonates in this lightning-quick story, along with plenty of eyebrow-raising chuckles.

Pub Date: July 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1470024710
Page count: 132pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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