A sudsy tale about dismal people and the unpleasant things that happen to them.
Bill Raeburn reaches his personal zenith by stealing home in the ninth inning of a high school baseball game to become the stuff of legends in little Turtle Key, Florida. Mickey Berman plays pretty good jazz piano, though not quite good enough to make it in New York, a shortfall that draws him back to Turtle Key after unhappy detours in Nose Candyland. These are the alternating protagonists through whom Weinman tells his bathetic story of grievous error, predictable failure, and not much in the way of redemption. In a fit of anger one day, Bill, the son of a wife abuser, belts his own wife, breaks her jaw and loses her, a bleak sequence that launches the melodrama on its soapy course. Later, he loses his daughter as well, when she dies in an accident that he thinks, with some justice, he might have prevented. Mickey, ineffectual best friend, serves mostly as a kind of haphazard sounding board for William Agonistes. Truth is, self-involved Mickey leads a multifaceted, twisty-turny sort of love life that demands primacy. “You screw anything that moves in a skirt,” an observant friend tells him. And to himself, he says, “I don't know why I keep trying with people who aren’t nice,” furnishing an insight into what makes Mickey icky. The villains of the piece are a rapacious oil company, bent on exploiting coastal Turtle Key, and a rich, powerful oil lobbyist who has hated and envied Bill Raeburn since they were boys. Resultant villainy is pretty much what you’d expect.
Weinman did much better with his NYPD series (Virgil’s Ghost, 1989). It’s been a while since Harvard-educated Detective Lenny Schwartz came out of the squad room to crack a case. Cops—never around when you need ’em.