Two Rhode Island potentates, one fading, one in the ascendant, wreak varying forms of mischief on a dark corner of New Hampshire, and a mousy bank employee discovers her inner exhibitionist.
In The Egg Code (2002), Heppner tackled the Internet and the American mind. The targets are a little (but not a lot) more manageable here as the friends and enemies of Nathaniel Pike, one of America’s richest men, try to figure out what fabulous—or fabulously nefarious—idea he has in mind for the seven-and-a-half acres of White Mountain wilderness he’s just purchased from the federal government. What he has in mind is a bit of grand-scale Dadaist installation. He’s going to level his bit of forest and put in a completely inaccessible parking lot. It’s all perfectly legal, but it is enough to send the local environmentalists into seizures. Heppner’s characters are oddballs and hangers-on, the oddest being his factotum, Stuart Breen. Stuart, the author of a disregarded novel, has been distracted from his usual efficiency by his entry into the nerve-wracking world of exhibitionism, for which the tour guide has been Stuart’s mousy wife, Marlene. The couple have been stripping to the buff in all sorts of inappropriate places, and Stuart occasionally waves his willy independently. Nearby, the closeted, patrician Gregg Reese maneuvers toward public subsidy of the family charitable fund he and his bossy mother have managed to deplete entirely in their support of civic goodness. Gregg’s daughter Allison and her moviemaking boyfriend Heath have drifted into Pike’s orbit. Heath soon turns his lens on the kinky life of Marlene Breen, and Allison has a fling with the anti-development forces who will shift into high gear as Pike appends a completely equipped K-Mart to his paved wilderness. Oh, and the wicked origins of the Reese fortune come to light.
Entertaining in fits and starts.