Smooth as a piña colada, and just about as substantial. Still: let Moore be Moore, and he will show you a good time.

FLUKE

OR, I KNOW WHY THE WINGED WHALE SINGS

The culture of cetacean research is cheerfully lampooned in this antic seventh novel from the Tom Robbins/Douglas Adams–like author of Lamb (2002) and other gag-filled romps.

The setting is the coast of Maui, where marine biologist Nathan Quinn, his associate Clay Demodocus, and lissome research assistant Amy Earhart are studying the “songs” of humpback whales. The tone is breezy, and the plot quickly fishtails into agreeable absurdity. Rude invective is detected on the thrashing flukes of a frequently sighted specimen. “Old Broad” resident Elizabeth Robinson claims to communicate with whales (one requests a pastrami-on-rye sandwich). “Ersatz Hawaiian” boathand “Kona” is jailed (after Quinn’s office is vandalized), and narrowly escapes the amorous attentions of a gigantic Samoan detainee. So it goes. Clay and Amy become disconnected from their boat during a dive and are feared lost. Nathan is “eaten by a giant whale ship,” reluctantly bonds with a super-race of piscatorial mutants, meets “the mysterious overlord of an undersea city,” and eventually learns—from a radically transformed old acquaintance—what all the singing is really about. Few readers will be surprised to learn that all this is (rather stagily) thematically related to the integrity of the ecosystem and the punishments nature is storing up for humans who have slaughtered whales and otherwise traduced the natural order. Moore is far from at his best when thus veering into sermon mode, but he’s a facile, entertaining writer, and has infectious fun hacking away at such targets as Canadian hockey violence, “whale huggers,” the US Navy’s shortsighted appropriation of oceanic resources for covert tests and experiments, cetacean sexual peccadilloes, supertankers, and a whole lot more.

Smooth as a piña colada, and just about as substantial. Still: let Moore be Moore, and he will show you a good time.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-380-97841-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more