Siciarz’s smooth, homespun island mystery series continues to provide satisfying entertainment with plenty of wit and...

Rum for the Pineapple Cup

The third installment of mystery novelist Siciarz’s (Away With the Fishes, 2014, etc.) Island of Oh series, featuring the continuing adventures of the fictional tropical island’s customs and excise officer, Raoul Orlean.

As the story begins, Raoul has forgotten his librarian wife Lila’s birthday. He visits shop owner and bewitching mystic Cora Silverfish for a last-minute piece of jewelry, knowing that her gems have a reputation for being enchanted. He also knows that he’ll get a good deal, now that her shop is set to go out of business. She selects a gemstone for him that comes complete with a spell to ward off the spirits of darkness, and this comes in handy later, when Lila receives only a minor injury from a fall. A faded cricket player, Seafus Hobb, cryptically warns Cora not to close her shop; he blames her for his diminished former sports career and his present job as an oddities-museum curator. A merciless, manipulative local newspaper editor, Bruce Kandele, stirs the pot by saying that Lila’s injury may be the result of some “malicious intent” by Cora, due to some philandering by Raoul. Soon, accusations begin swirling around Lila’s faithfulness as well. Questions also arise about officer Dwight Williams’s clandestine (and possibly illegal) deliveries to businesses from a sketchy curator. Meanwhile, the island’s annual Pineapple Cup soccer tournament approaches. Raoul once again dons his investigative hat and does the spadework to catch guilty parties in action. Is Dwight a courier of criminal contraband? Is someone intercepting packages at Seafus’ museum? Will the intuitive Cora save the day, or is she a co-conspirator? Needless to say, the resolution is swift and justice is served, although readers will find that much of the plot is obvious by the middle portion of the novel. Overall, though, the author is in fine form once again, using the same breezy storytelling and likable, engrossing characters that have made the Island of Oh popular. Siciarz shows Raoul demonstrating some investigative skill and, in typical frenzied fashion, dashing across the island in search of answers with a spontaneously planned sting operation. Even though the mystery this time around is more loosely drawn than in past volumes, fans of the series can rest assured that the island remains in good hands with folks like Raoul Orlean on its side.  

Siciarz’s smooth, homespun island mystery series continues to provide satisfying entertainment with plenty of wit and spiritual nuance.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Pink Moon Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2016

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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