In this stunning novel from Rogan (The Lifeboat), seemingly unrelated story threads are ingeniously woven into an explosive whole. The Red Bud, OK, munitions plant provides steady paychecks to half the town. So when secretary Maggie Rayburn sees a top-secret document indicating that faulty weaponry, emitting radioactive dust, is being supplied to soldiers in Afghanistan, she becomes an unpopular whistle-blower. Dolly Jackson, a midwife at an Oklahoma Veterans Affairs center, notices a disturbing number of birth defects among the soldiers' newborns, yet the attending physician is reluctant to tell anyone. And somewhere in an Afghan desert Capt. Penn Sinclair tries to maintain morale among troops whose tour has been unexpectedly extended. Hoping to take their minds off the bad news, Sinclair sends a convoy of men on a humanitarian mission and into a deadly trap. Rogan skillfully portrays characters who examine their consciences, working toward a more responsible way of living in the world. Power struggles ensue, families suffer, friendships are tested, and wells of strength are tapped, yet the author offers no pat answers to life's difficult questions. VERDICT The Lifeboat was honored with nominations for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and The Guardian first book award. This morally complex story, part Silkwood, part Redeployment, should fare even better. Book groups, take note. [See Prepub Alert, 10/12/15.]—Sally Bissell, formerly with Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL
Though I'm more of a fan of his editorial writing in the Miami Herald than I am of his fiction, today I finished Carl Hiaasen's latest entry in his madcap novels of Florida's cranks, shysters, hucksters, and criminals. I wrote a review of "Razor Girl," coming out in September, for my radio program on WGCU. I'll record it when I return to Florida in the fall. Here's a preview just to whet your whistle:
Merry Mansfield, the proverbial bad girl with a heart of gold, specializes in bump and runs, seducing her prey after inflicting minor damage on their rental cars. But on a warm, breezy night on the highway between Miami and Key West, the sexy redhead targets the wrong silver Buick, setting in motion this rollicking, screwball comedy.Hollywood agent Lance Coolman had an easy assignment, get to Key West and rescue his biggest client, Buck Nance, from a self-inflicted public relations fiasco. Nance, the alpha male on the hugely popular redneck reality show Bayou Brethren (think Duck Dynasty on steroids), has disappeared. He is suspected of committing a hate crime against a tourist of Middle Eastern descent while riding the family friendly Conch train.
Enter former Key West police detective Andrew Yancy. He’s been demoted to the ignominious job of restaurant inspector for behavior unbecoming an officer, and he hopes that by solving the conch train crime he’ll be reinstated. He’ll have to be on his best behavior, not easy as long as he’s battling sleazy TV lawyer Brock Richardson who plans to build a McMansion on the empty lot adjacent to Yancy’s home, thus forever blocking Yancy’s sunset views.Here you have all the ingredients of a classic, laugh-out-loud, Carl Hiaasen novel. His books are not for the squeamish, nor for the politically correct. There are times when you’ll find yourself saying, “He did NOT say that!” But if you have a healthy sense of the absurd and you need a break from the more serious news of the day then there’s no one like Hiaasen to feed you hard truths tempered with a spoonful of sugar.