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by Jessica Adams

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-312-29062-4
Publisher: St. Martin's

Goofy goings-on in Tasmania as the aftershocks of a guy's second marriage send tremors through the surrounding characters’ lives.

Richard Gilby is a vet living in the small town of Compton. He’s getting married for the second time and things appear to be going just fine—for him at least. His younger brother, Harry, is a misbegotten loser working as a bank teller whose sole passion in life is the music and persona of Debbie Harry; his ex-wife, Bronte, an editor for a glossy woman’s magazine in Sydney, is acting flakier than usual and is seeing visions of her dead horse wherever she goes; and his new wife, Sarah, a Londoner not adjusting well to rural Tasmania, has just fallen like a stone for Richard’s best man, Tom, who’s currently living with a condescending older woman. Meanwhile: Harry’s tribute band—We’ve Got Blondie’s Drumsticks And We’re Going To Use Them—is falling apart thanks to a lack of gigs and talent; Bronte is about to lose her job and her sanity; and Sarah and Tom are inching closer and closer to having an affair. Calm, competent Richard is in the middle of all this with little to no inkling of the lives that are coming apart around him. Which could be the setup for a cheesy but rather amusing Aussie soap opera. But, unfortunately, it’s a novel and so Adams feels the need to tie things up when in fact all of the book’s nervy little predicaments should have been allowed to just continue spiraling out of control. For all the many honest laughs here—mostly at the expense of buffoonish characters like Harry and Bronte—Adams also weighs the story down with too much earnest relationship talk.

The Tasmanian-born author's US debut may not quite know what it wants, but it makes a valiant effort of getting there: Tom, Dick and Debbie Harry should find a respectable following by virtue almost of its name alone.