THE PSYCHIC AND THE SWAMP MAN by Kathleen Martell Gordon


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An amiable, if rather overwrought, first novel about psychic kooks in Miami. Ruby Bittner Holloway--the narrator--is a 33-year-old psychic who has lost her once-strong powers. Still, though married to 50-ish lawyer Artie and living in a fancy cabin in the Everglades, Ruby keeps in touch with paranormal goings-on: her older sister Lillian runs a Tourist and Magic Emporium in Miami (center of the batty-old-lady sÉance circuit); both Ruby and Lillian are haunted by the ghost of their mother, who committed suicide; and each night Ruby leaves a meal on her back porch (roast beef, French wine, butter cookies) for the outer-space allen who lives in the swamp. It's the swamp man, in fact, who tries to keep Ruby good and true during all those business trips that take Artie out of town. But Ruby (who has been unable to become pregnant, despite her secret birth pills) is impossibly infatuated with Rolando Ramirez, a handsome young Cuban--and not even the swamp man's powers can keep her from succumbing to his fortune-hunting charms. Ramirez, however, soon sees better game in sister Lillian: he seduces her, even arranges for a marriage (in a graveyard!). And it will take the combined powers of the swamp man and the ghost of Ruby's mother to prevent this calamity. . . while also reuniting Ruby (pregnant at last) with husband Artie. Sounds a little contrived? Well, it is--especially with yet another subplot added in: the reappearance of Ruby's runaway father Sam, a down-at-heels magician who can't give Ruby the love she needs. And the mixing of comic ghost-hunting with more serious psychological stewings doesn't always work. But this is a talented debut nonetheless, eccentric and atmospheric--with promise of even better things ahead.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1981
Publisher: Viking