SNAKES IN THE GARDEN by L.S. Whiteley
Kirkus Star

SNAKES IN THE GARDEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Whiteley's wonderfully captivating hard-cover debut--a whodunit novel that focuses on a southern family so quirky that they seem to be the by-blows of Holly Golightly and William S. Burroughs. Narrator Thomas Clay, a drug-culture renegade and freewheeling mid-30s realtor, steps out of bed with his partner's wife to become the favorite suspect in his grandfather's murder--the crusty old patriarch was found face down in cow dung, two bullets in his brain and barefoot. Thomas' chief accuser, special investigator Mason Brooks, remembers him from their school days (when Tom, in a rage, dunked Mason's head into the toilet), but, shared memories notwithstanding, Thomas maintains his innocence--and ambles along the family tree searching for other possibilities. Among them: James, a Vietnam casualty who has lived for the past five years in the woods behind grandfather's house; Michele and Vanessa, who shared a husband but really loved each other; David, refurbished ex-druggie; David's twin and co-druggie, Daniel; Laura, an over-the-hill groupie; and the geriatric Fulton, who had a long-ago affair with Grandma. Did any of them have anything to do with the death of hooker Elizabeth Jane--and how did that murder tie into Grandpa's? As Thomas drolly goes about eliminating the innocent (though nobody in this book is an innocent), Mason slogs on with his investigation, eager to railroad Thomas behind bars--until Thomas himself wrests a confession from one of his less-than-totally-likable kinfolk. Brash, outlandish, unusual fare--with surprises for the reader throughout, especially in the confession. This time, Whiteley serves up a rococo, endearingly eccentric southern Florida winner.

Pub Date: July 13th, 1990
Publisher: Walker