TROPICAL LUST by Liz Lehman

TROPICAL LUST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Lehman’s (Sand Dollar Island, 2014, etc.) thriller, the paths of a disparate group of characters intersect in surprising ways.

In Indian River County, Florida, a tragedy unfolds: Theodore S. Fitzgerald collapses and dies after suffering a heart attack in the middle of enjoying an afternoon with his wife, Anna, and sons, Mark and Cort. Years later, a young woman, Fontaine “Taine” Nichols, is brutally raped in her Boca Raton hotel room by a dangerous, delusional man named Hack, who received the room key from Taine’s former boyfriend, Breeze Henderson. She survives but with severe physical and emotional wounds. Dr. Alexandra “Alex” Parker, a cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon, cares for Taine and becomes her loyal confidante. Alex, meanwhile, is romantically involved with Mark Fitzgerald, who’s now a local businessman facing steep financial losses. To stem this tide, Mark starts running drugs and laundering money for a Colombian cartel; his contact is a woman named Isabella Jorge, whose “stunning beauty [takes] his breath away.” His questionable actions soon put his life in grave danger. Meanwhile, Taine rebuilds her own life with the help of Mark’s friend Dusty Kahn, a movie producer, but her newfound sense of security is overshadowed by the fact that Hack is following her every move. Lehman’s intricate plot moves along at a quick, steady pace as the action moves from the streets of Boca Raton and Miami to those of the Bahamas and Colombia. At times, the narrative reads like two separate novels: one featuring Taine and Hack, and the other involving Mark and his illegal activities. The drug-cartel plotline is the stronger of the two; its action scenes are well-developed (“Panicked, the woman screamed and ran towards the shack. Before she made it through the doorway, a bullet hit her in the back”), and the parts set in Colombia add just the right amount of intensity. Lehman attempts to unite the storylines at the end with an improbable twist that’s not entirely successful. The novel might have also benefited from a stronger edit; at one point, for example, Bel Air, California, is referred to as “Belle Aire.”

A novel that’s buoyed by brisk pacing and exotic locales but hampered by unlikely plot turns.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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