THE CARETAKER by Thomas William Simpson


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 Wickedly hilarious celebration of a typical, if slightly despicable, American family's blithe destruction at the hands of a satanic computer genius posing as the caretaker of a vast East Hampton estate. This time out, Simpson (The Fingerprints of Armless Mike, 1996, etc.) applies his Fay Weldonlike obsessions with modern evil to the particulars of the American have-it-all dream. The Hendersons, a good-looking clan of suburban strivers, are suddenly handed everything they could desire. Recruited as a one-man sales force for a heavily capitalized marketing firm, Gunn Henderson, a handsome, athletic, gun-collecting smoothie who can sell only to people he hates, takes his handsome wife Samantha, their sweetly innocent eight-year-old daughter and their obnoxiously rebellious teenager son to live in an enormous mansion at the far eastern edge of Long Island. The mansion, and its quirky staff, as well as a $250,000 salary, golf-club memberships, a limousine, and paid tuitions at private schools, are perks for Gunn, who hits the road to sell a ridiculous fad toy to five-and-dimes, leaving Samantha with nothing much to do but watch Brady, the estate's handsome, blue-eyed, oh-so-sensitive caretaker, swim nude in the pool. As Samantha is drawn to Brady (who is also our satanic computer genius), Gunn indulges himself on the road, falling in lust, then love, with his silicone-enhanced ``business associate'' Nita Garrett. Garrett, along with just about everyone else in this cynical tale, is part of Brady's elaborate, hi-tech revenge on teenager Gunn's father. Simple revenge, however, is not enough. Brady is also adapting his plot as a new computer game with the Hendersons as characters. Alas, though, the same flaws that make the family so gleefully corruptible must, in the end, bring Brady down, but not before Simpson can show how generous helpings of passion, sex, and luxury make fools of so many of us mortals. Trashy, nasty, and fun.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-553-10052-1
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1998


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