THE ENCHANTED ISLE
James M. Cain
Another posthumous-publication mistake: if Cloud Nine (1984) was an unpleasant, implausible curiosity, this second retrieval from Cain's apparent dotage (he died in 1977, at 85) is sheer embarrassment all around. The narrator here is 16-year-old Mandy, who tells her melodramatic story--seemingly set in the 1960s--in an unintentionally hilarious mishmash of pre-WW II, Runyonesque slang (we had hardly got in the door before they commenced suspicioning us), unwisely sprinkled with attempts at more up-to-date lingo (Cool it, morn). Mandy runs away from home (stepfather Steve is a spanker/fondler); she heads for Baltimore to introduce herself to her never-known real father (who denies paternity); desperate for a mink coat (to humble this rejecting father), she hooks up with a pair of bank-robbers, who get killed mid-heist, leaving Mandy and boyfriend Rick to flee with the loot. And when Rick double-crosses her, Mandy repents and returns--finding genuine paternal love from Steve (he'll die to save Mandy from vengeful Rick) and from her real father (not the creep in Baltimore), who takes Mandy into his Daddy Warbuck arms after the ludicrous bloodbath finale. A sorry hash of mellerdrama clichâ€šs and murky socio-sexual pathology--without the solid dialogue and sporadic stylishness that made Cloud Nine at least half-readable.