John D. MacDonald
The condominiums that Marty Liss built stand on Fiddler Key in the Gulf and seem to offer the dream retirement oasis, but life at the Golden Sands could be a lot dreamier. In fact, the place "stinks of fear": the monthly fee is growing, the adjoining scenic jungle has been razed to make way for another Liss condo, the lazy super/stud can't be fired, and Gus Garver in 1-C--a reluctantly ex-engineer--is feeling uneasy about things like water tables, lateral stress, and a sloppy concrete pour. Uneasy he should feel. Marty's bribes to local politicos have allowed him to erect a doomed pleasure dome, and all we can do is wait for much-heralded Hurricane Ella to arrive and lay waste. Well, not quite all. While waiting, we can learn--from a storytelling natural--the lives lived in retirement. Tennis for keeping fit, Heath-kits for keeping busy, hospitals and homes for the spouses who collapse, medical benefits that run out, connubial quirks and greater madnesses that rise to the surface when there's all that time to kill. Add these senior citizens to the familiar MacDonald adulteresses and shysters--and it's an immense, varied cast, all talking some of the solidest Middle-American dialogue in print. Too much business deal detail as usual (John D.'s a Harvard MBA after all), and readers will probably resent the disaster-movie ending that renders everything moot. But MacDonald has brought off his move to a broader Florida canvas, producing a 450-page book that seems too short, leaving the mystery-suspense pigeonhole far behind.