I’m so lucky. I get this in the mail either tomorrow or the next day, in paperback. I read it as an ebook and I think my IQ jumped 25 points that week. Because it’s a thinking sort of novel. A literary mystery with a Tootsie center, which begs the question: how many licks does it take to solve this murder mystery? (Answer: 378 pages, the print length of the book).
I’ve gotten permission to post an excerpt from the book. A little background though: the base story is about an insane asylum assistant who reads the biography of an ex-patient, looking for clues as to why her boss, the asylum director, is in a near catatonic state. The excerpt below is from the biography. The murder part of the murder mystery is best explained by reading the book.
“Oh, enough about you! Let’s talk about me,” Monique said. Above her head, a string of outdoor lights — the ones shaped like chili peppers — shivered in the sudden breeze and went out.
“All right,” I said, tapping my last-ever cigarette on the rim of her piña colada. “What would you like to know about yourself?”
Hoping my breath was awful, I leaned toward her and leered. At least, I think it was a leer. I probably should have practiced that, because she didn’t even flinch. Instead, her mind wandered over to the poolside bar with her drop-dead body in tow.
“A Quaalude for me, and a Quickie for the gentleman.”
Monique was sipping her way through the cocktail alphabet, and I’d promised to join her at “Q.” Oh, I knew she was cheating. She had to be. No one could survive all that booze, so her drinks were probably virgins. So what? If we made it to “S,” she’d promised me a double round of Sex on the Beach under the Tequila Sunrise.
Don’t blame me. It was Monique’s idea of a birthday present.
Ah, Monique, I bet your real name is Monica, I thought, taking another drag. I’d told her to call me Dave, my best friend’s name. She just kept calling me “Sugar.”
I turned to watch her chat with the bartender, who might — in even dimmer light — have been as handsome as a bullfrog. Now, he could give lessons in leering. Whatever alternate universe Pedro came from, he had guts, balls, chutzpah. Whatever ugly guys have when they hit on gorgeous women.
Maybe he has a big attribute, hidden by the bar.
My Rolex buzzed the hour: three AM. I took one last puff and stubbed out my butt in the World’s Most All-inclusive Ashtray — where transfer-printed, grass-skirted pygmies danced the hula in the shadow of Angkor Wat.
Where was I, and what was I doing there?