Book Review: Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson @CamCatBooks @partnersincr1me

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Beneath the Marigolds

by Emily C. Whitson

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon
Indiebound // CamCat Books

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Beneath the Marigolds
Emily C. Whitson
CamCat Books, September 2021
ISBN ‎ 978-0-7443-0420-6
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Playing on our universal fascination with reality TV, Emily C. Whitson’s Beneath the Marigolds is The Bachelor(ette) gone terribly wrong.

When her best friend, Reese Marigold, goes missing after attending Last Chance, an exclusive singles’ retreat on a remote island off the coast of Hawaii, no-nonsense lawyer Ann Stone infiltrates the retreat.

Ann quickly realizes there’s more to Last Chance than meets the eye. The extravagant clothes, never-ending interviews, and bizarre dates hint that the retreat is a front for a reality dating show. Could Reese be safe, keeping a low profile until the premier, or did something sinister occur after all?

Torn between the need to uncover the truth and her desperate desire to get off the island, Ann partakes in the unusual routines of the “journey to true love” and investigates the other attendees who all have something to hide. In a final attempt to find Reese on the compound, she realizes that she herself may never get off the island alive.

Time to confess—I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, hardcore reality show junkie. Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise, Real Housewives, Vanderpump, Southern Charm, etc., etc. You’ll note it’s all the sleazy stuff that indulges in as much outrageous behavior as one could possibly want. Do I think any of it’s real? Of course not, but it’s one of my indulgences. Hey, I’m retired with plenty of time for the semi-smut so why not?

Then along comes Emily C. Whitson offering another of my obsessions, a murder (?) mystery! Now, I ask you, how could I possibly turn down this chance?I

At its core, this is a look at the deep friendship that can develop between two women who have at least one important something in common. In this case, the link is substance addiction, a powerful thing to share. When Reese appears to be missing after several weeks at a singles’ retreat that may or may not be actually a reality show, Ann drops everything in her orderly life to go in search of her friend. What she finds will turn her own life upside down and threaten her very survival. One tension-filled lead after another turns this into a hunt for truth that may not be so easy to accept.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2021.

“Cleverly plotted…Whitson’s debut novel is an intriguing new entry in the women’s suspense genre, driven by dual first-person narrators and tension-filled parallel timelines.” — Carmen Amato, Silver Falchion Award Finalist and author of The Detective Emilia Cruz Mystery Series

An Excerpt from Beneath the Marigolds

Prologue

I knew too much. On that island, on that godforsaken singles’ retreat. I knew too much. I ruminated on that thought, chewing it carefully, repeatedly, while Magda, the makeup artist, transformed me into a life-size nightmarish porcelain doll. Ghastly white face, penciled-in eyebrows, blood-red lips. I’d look beautiful from a distance, she had told me, leaving the other part of the sentence unspoken: up close, it’s frightening. She tsked as she dabbed my damp forehead for the fourth time, her Russian accent thickening with frustration. “Vhy you sveating so much?” I worried my voice would come out haggard, so I shrugged, a little too forcefully. Magda shook her head, her pink bob sashaying in the grand all-white bathroom as she muttered something foreign under her breath. My gaze danced across the various makeup brushes on the vanity until it landed on one in particular. I shifted my weight in the silk- cushioned chair, toyed with my watch. “Magda, what do you want out of this retreat?” No response. Did she not hear me, or did she choose not to respond? In the silence, I was able to hear Christina’s high-heeled feet outside the bathroom. Click, clack. Click, click. When I first met the host of the singles’ retreat, I was in awe of her presence, her unflappable poise. Shoulders back, she walked with a purpose, one foot in front of another, and though she was a couple inches shorter than I was, she seemed larger than life. Her icy eyes, colored only the faintest shade of blue, seemed to hold the secrets of the world—secrets she intended to keep. But I had stumbled upon them just a few short hours before, and I was now afraid her gait represented something more sinister: the march of an executioner. Click, clack. Click, clack. Her stride matched the even tick of my watch, and a drop of sweat trickled down my back. Was I being ridiculous? Surely Christina wouldn’t hurt me. She had been reasonable with me earlier, hadn’t she? “One meenute,” Magda shouted at the retreat’s host. She doused my fire-red curls in hairspray one last time before asking me if I was ready to go. “I just need to use the bathroom.” I wheezed through shallow breaths. “I’ll be right out.” Magda exaggerated her sigh before shuffling out of the white-marble immurement, closing the doors behind her with a huff. My last remnants of safety and rational thinking left with her. I shoved the vanity chair underneath the door handle. I grabbed the makeup brush with the flattest head and hurried to the bathroom. I gingerly closed the lid of the toilet and slipped off my heels before tip- toeing on top so I could face the window. After removing the beading, I inserted the head of the makeup brush between the frame and glass. The brush’s handle cracked under the pressure, but it was enough to lever the glass out of its mounting. I placed the glass on the floor as gently as I’ve ever handled any object, trying not to make even the slightest sound, before hoisting myself up and through the window. I jumped into the black night, only partially illuminated by the full moon and the artificial lights of the mansion. I allowed my eyes to adjust. And then I ran. The loose branches of the island forest whipped at my cheeks, my limbs, my mouth. The soles of my feet split open from fallen twigs and other debris, but the adrenaline kept the pain at bay. I tripped over something unseen, and my hands broke my fall. Just a few cuts, and a little blood. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it. I jumped up, forcing myself to keep moving. The near darkness was blinding, so I held my bloody hands up, trying to block my face. The farther I ran, the more similar the trunks of the trees became. How long had I been running? I gauged about a mile. I slowed down to gather my bearings. Behind me, the lights of the mansion brightened the sky, but they were only the size of my palm from that distance. I heard the hum of a moving car come and go. I must have been near the road. I was about to start moving again when I heard the snap of twigs. Footsteps. I stopped breathing. I swiveled to my left and right, but nothing. I exhaled. It was just my imagination. I continued away from the lights. Away from the retreat. And then someone stepped toward me: Christina. Her face was partially obscured by darkness, but her pale eyes stood out like fireflies. “It doesn’t have to be like this,” she said. Her expression remained a mystery in the darkness. I turned around, but one of her handlers was blocking that path. Christina took another step forward, and I jerked away, tripping over the gnarled roots of the forest in the process. My head broke the fall this time, and my ears rang from the pain. Her handler reached for my left hand, and for a moment, I thought he was going to help me stand. Instead, he twisted my ring finger into an unnatural position. As my bone cracked, my screams reverberated through the woods. It was showtime. *** Excerpt from Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson. Copyright 2021 by Emily C. Whitson. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

 

“A fun, propulsive read…this book cleverly combines the archetypes of “reality TV” and the “trapped-on-a-remote-island” mystery that will perpetually keep you guessing.” — Marcy McCreary, author of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon

About the Author

 

Emily Whitson received a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a marketing copywriter for six years before pursuing a career in fiction and education. She is currently getting her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt University, where she writes between classes. She is particularly passionate about women’s education and female stories. This interest stems from her time at Harpeth Hall, an all-girls college preparatory school in Nashville, Tennessee. When she isn’t volunteering, writing, or in the classroom, Emily can usually be found with her dog, Hoss, in one of Nashville’s various parks. Beneath the Marigolds is her debut novel.

Catch Up With Emily C. Whitson: EmilyCWhitson.com Goodreads BookBub – @emilycwhitson_author Instagram – @emilycwhitson Facebook – @emilycwhitson

“Exhilarating twists and turns…a fast-paced psychological thriller that mashes up the reality series The Bachelor with Gone Girl.” — Helen Power, author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

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Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Emily C. Whitson & CamCat Books. There will be 1 winner of one (1) print edition of Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson (US, Canada, and UK Only). The giveaway runs October 1 through November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Review: Temptation Trials by B. Truly

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Book Review: Hide and Seek by Amy Shojai

Hide and Seek ShojaiHide and Seek
September Day Series, Book II
Amy Shojai
Cool Gus Publishing, January 2014
ISBN 9781621251477
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A mysterious contagion will shatter countless lives unless a service dog and his trainer find a missing cat . . . in 24 hours.

A STALKER hides in plain sight.
A VICTIM faces her worst fear.
AND A DOG seeks the missing-and finds hope.

Eight years ago, animal behaviorist September Day escaped a sadistic captor who left her ashamed, terrified, and struggling with PTSD. She trusts no one-except her cat Macy and service dog Shadow.

Shadow also struggles with trust. A German Shepherd autism service dog who rescued his child partner only to lose his-boy forever, Shadow’s crippling fear of abandonment shakes his faith in humans.

They are each others’ only chance to survive the stalker’s vicious payback, but have only 24 hours to uncover the truth about Macy’s mysterious illness or pay the deadly consequences. When September learns to trust again, and a good-dog takes a chance on love, together they find hope in the midst of despair-and discover what family really means.

Question: If a book is a mystery and a cat and a dog have significant parts, what subgenre of mystery is it?

Answer: Most likely a cozy unless the book is Hide and Seek by Amy Shojai. If you’ve picked up this book thinking you’re about to read a cozy, you’ll be very surprised. In fact, you should walk away from the book.

If, on the other hand, you’d like a good deal of nailbiting suspense, a fair amount of psychological distress both past and current, quite a bit of action and even a little humor here and there and, yes, a pair of pets you’d like to call your own, then you’ve come to the right place.

Ms. Shojai weaves a tale of intersecting plotlines that range from the highly questionable behavior of a reality show’s star and host to a death that causes untold stress in a woman damaged by her own past to the playful antics of Macy and Shadow, a cat and dog that share a home with September Day. In the early stages, Macy is the only one of the trio who isn’t in some sort of psychological recovery but then Macy becomes the focus of a search for a lot of answers, not the least of which is who—or what—is making people and animals so sick?

A menace from September’s painful past, a missing woman, a little girl who loves kitties, a smarmy tabloid reporter all contribute to a story rich in tension and uncertainty as well as the many emotional attachments we all have in our lives. In the long run, it was the latter that really got my attention and Ms. Shojai is equally adept at making those attachments believable whether they’re of the animal or human variety and spending time with Macy and Shadow was especially enjoyable in those quiet moments that relieve the anxiety of the core thriller.

There are occasions when we see the action through Shadow’s eyes and instincts but readers who prefer animals not be anthropomorphic need not be concerned—Shadow does not tell the tale nor does he do any sleuthing.

Hide and Seek is a story full of surprises and I’m looking forward to spending much more time with this little family in the next book and all that will follow.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2014.

Book Review: Topped Chef by Lucy Burdette

Topped ChefTopped Chef
A Key West Food Critic Mystery
Lucy Burdette
Obsidian/Penguin Group, May 2013
ISBN: 9780451239709
Mass Market Paperback

Murder and felonious maneuverings behind the scenes of a cable TV cooking show, set on one of the more exotic Florida Islands, plus some tasty recipes, and what more could you want for a delightful summer read?

Lucy Burdette, the veteran crime novelist she is, has produced another tasty offering. Even the often tongue-in-cheek epigrams feed the fun. Haley Snow, budding food critic has a job with a struggling Key West magazine called Key Zest. Reviewing restaurant meals is never an easy assignment and in Key West where local opinions on almost anything can run fast and hot, restaurant reports can be easy targets. Haley’s boss signs her up to be a judge on a nascent reality TV cooking show. The program, called “Topped Chef”, has the potential to make the featured chef a wealthy star, so tension is high.

Then murder intervenes when one of the judges is found dead in rather bizarre circumstances. Reluctantly, although she is a bit of a nosy gossip, Haley probes the circumstances of the murder while still trying to maintain some semblance of neutrality as the judging progresses and the program is videotaped. Haley Snow is not cast in the mold of a Sam Spade, she doesn’t own a gun and has to rely on her wits most times. She gets around town on a motor scooter. The novel is peopled with gender-shifting, cross-dressing, homeless and even some tourists of questionable attitudes. They all add to the fun and the pulsing rhythms of the tourist mecca that is Key West.

Consider the title of the novel which can be read in at least three ways, possibly more. The title is either a clue to the solution or a flaming red herring. Readers will have to decide. Then go on to consider the names of some of the characters, Turtle, Sam Rizzoli, Randy, Peter, and so on. The novel is clean, smoothly written, from the capable hands of an excellent writer. As an added bonus there are several tasty recipes in the back of the book. Well done, I say, well done.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, June 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

Book Reviews: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain, Shatter the Bones by Stuart MacBride, In Desperation by Rick Mofina, Damage Control by Denise Hamilton, and A Vine in the Blood by Leighton Gage

The Night Season
Chelsea Cain
Minotaur Books, March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-61976-3
Hardcover

In this, the fourth book in the series featuring police detective Archie Sheridan, Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful but masochistic serial killer who in previous entries shared the stage with Archie, is little more than backdrop, a recurring theme playing almost entirely offstage.  Gretchen has now been in jail for six months [after having been recaptured].  This time reporter Susan Ward plays a larger role, working almost in tandem with Archie, the cop who lived to tell the tale of the Beauty Killer and has still not quite recovered.  [For the uninitiated, Archie headed up the task force searching for the gorgeous psychopath for ten years before she caught him three years earlier.  She had held him captive and tortured him in ways too lurid to be described here.  It nearly cost him his life; it did cost him his marriage.]  After spending two months in a psych ward, he is now, at 41 years of age, eight months clean of painkillers and six months out of inpatient treatment, and allowed to go back to work in the police department.

The killer which is front and center this time around is the swollen Willamette River in Portland.  But it seems that a human killer is at work as well:  Among those swept away by the flood waters are several who were killed before they were left to drown, poisoned by one of the most bizarre methods one is ever likely to find in a novel.  As the cops investigate, one of their own is an early victim.  There are parallels between the current fictional natural disaster and one which actually did completely wipe out another Willamette River city more than 60 years earlier.

Readers can be reassured that this book does not have any of the graphic descriptions of the pleasures in which Gretchen indulged in the earlier books.  For those that miss the gore, the author notes in an acknowledgement that she will make up for it next time.  With or without those elements the book makes for great reading, as did the others.  It is another suspenseful entry in the series and, as those earlier books, is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2011.

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Shatter the Bones
Stuart MacBride
HarperCollins, January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-00-734421-5
Hardcover

[It should be noted that this is the UK edition; the US edition is not yet available]

Alison McGregor and her six-year-old daughter, Jenny, Aberdeen’s huge favorites to win the competition on the hit tv show Britain’s Next Big
Star, have made it to the semi-finals.  Suddenly they are kidnapped, and the ransom note soon received says they will be killed if an indeterminate ransom is not paid within fourteen days.  Contributions are made across the country from their millions of fans.  The police are stymied – there are no witnesses, and no trace of forensic evidence can be found on either the ransom notes or the gruesome videos which the police are examining, and there are absolutely no clues as to who is behind the crime.  Needless to say, the media, and the public, are in an uproar, and the detectives are being hounded by both, as well as by the head of the CID and other investigative agencies.

There is a second story line dealing with a routine drug bust which goes seriously awry, with the drug dealer managing to escape despite handcuffs and the presence of numerous police officers designed to prevent just that from happening.  The ramifications of this are far-reaching and brutal, and very personal for DS Logan McRae.

This latest entry in this wonderful series moves at a slower pace than I remembered the earlier books being, perhaps reflective of the actual way in which serious crime investigations happen in real life.  But trust me, by the time the reader approaches the wrap-up of this well-written tale of celebrity culture run amok, the reader will be turning the pages swiftly to reach the suspense-filled ending as time is running out and the deadline approaches.

Logan McRae, his significant other, Samantha, and the cops on the Grampian Police force who readers have met in the earlier books are wonderfully well drawn.  McRae is a very human and believable protagonist, and I can’t wait for his return in the next series entry. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2011.

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In Desperation
Rick Mofina
MIRA Books, April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2948-0
Mass Market Paperback

Before the end of the first chapter of In Desperation, Rick Mofina’s newest entry in the Jack Gannon series, Tilly, the eleven-year-old daughter of Cora Martin, has been kidnapped by two gunmen, who tell her that her boss has stolen five million dollars from them, and that he has five days to return it or Tilly will be killed, threatening the same fate if the police are called in.  In her desperation, Cora calls the only family she has, that person being the brother with whom she has had no contact for over twenty years:  Jack Gannon.

Gannon, a 35-year-old loner from blue-collar Buffalo, New York, is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with a national wire service. And the call he receives from Cora is more unsettling to him than anything he can recall.  When she was seventeen and he was twelve, she was his hero, his big sister protector, until she left some twenty years ago and never returned, leaving her family to embark on a futile search for her over the ensuing years.  Her pleas to Jack to help her find the niece he never knew he had take him from Juarez, Mexico, “one of the world’s most violent cities with a homicide rate greater than any other city on earth, where he has been working on a story dealing with the drug cartels that had taken over every aspect life in that country, and go to the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona where Cora lives. He insists that the police be notified, despite the kidnappers’ threat, which only widens the danger as it appears, as has been widely discussed in the press in the novel as well as the real-life media that surrounds us all, that police agencies in the US have been infiltrated by the cartel members, an acknowledged fact of life in Mexico.

Except for the final few pages, all the ensuing action takes place over a five-day period, hard to believe for all the action that is packed into that time frame.  The reader is teased from the first with references to a secret that Cora will not reveal, something from her past that she convinces herself cannot possibly have any connection with her present crisis.  Cora’s boss, the one who is supposed to have pulled off this rip-off of some very dangerous men, seems to have disappeared, and all attempts to locate him end in failure.

Always engrossing, the book has the high level of suspense typical of Mr. Mofina’s writing.  One quibble this reader had was that I found it less than credible that Gannon, already suspecting that the investigation may have been compromised, approaches a lead, a man with a very unsavory background, giving him full details of the investigation to that point in order to elicit information from him that will give him further avenues to pursue.  But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Jack’s journalistic instincts push him to proceed, and put him in a difficult position – he has a job to do, and a story to write, even as he fights to distance himself from the fact that he is writing about his own family.  Bodies start showing up, killed in gruesome ways, and they must find Tilly before she becomes just one more.  They discover that an assassin, or sicario, has been dispatched to find those missing millions, and to eliminate any loose ends, or witnesses.

Sure to hold the reader’s attention to the very end, the book leads the reader to think he or she knows where they are being taken – but don’t be too sure.  The author has a very sure hand, and surprises are in store.  Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

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Damage Control
Denise Hamilton
Scribner, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9674-9
Hardcover

On the very first page of the prologue to Damage Control, the terrific new book by Denise Hamilton, the reader meets high school student Maggie Weinstock.  Fast forward sixteen years:  Maggie is now Maggie Silver, divorced, and 33 years old.  The crux of the plot stems from that earlier time frame, when Maggie, in her first two years of high school, met the Paxtons, who became the “golden ones” in her young life.  Before “BFF” became part of the vernacular, their daughter, Anabelle, was that and more – she was everything Maggie admired and, to some extent, envied. And her good-looking brother, Luke, was a Surf God.

Maggie now works for the top crisis management firm in L.A., doing corporate PR.  The newest client to whose case she is assigned is a U.S. Senator with a wife and grown children, a probable candidate for vice president in the next election, whose 23-year-old female aide has been found murdered, in a scenario reminiscent of the one involving Gary Conduit and Chandra Levy a decade ago.  The senator is none other than Henry Paxton, Anabelle’s father, who had been a father figure and a role model to Maggie all those years ago.  Welcome to the wonderful world of “damage control,” or spin.

This novel provides a fascinating glimpse, in a schadenfreude way, into a world about which most readers know little.  Maggie suspects that her past involvement with the Paxton family is what brought the assignment to her desk.  She believes, and tells her colleagues, that no member of that family is capable of murder.  The response is that “everyone’s capable of murder if you give them the right reason.”  But she is determined to prove that no member of the family is guilty. The backstory of Maggie’s friendship with Anabelle, and how it ended, is the lens through which Maggie views the Paxtons.  In the end, it’s all about the secrets we keep from one another.  As with the earlier books by Ms. Hamilton, comprised of the five books in the Eve Diamond series as well as The Last Embrace, a standalone, Damage Control is thoroughly entertaining, and is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2011.

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A Vine in the Blood
Leighton Gage
Soho Crime, December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61695-004-0
Hardcover

This is the fifth novel in the series, referred to as the Inspector Mario Silva Investigations, and it is every bit as delightful as the others.  “Delightful” might be a strange adjective for a book concerning kidnapping and murder, but it is entirely fitting.

Football [or, as the Americans call it, ‘soccer’] is the most popular sport in Brazil, and the FIFA World Cup the premier event in that sport, and Tico Santos, known as The Artist, is considered the greatest player in the history of the sport.  As the book opens, three weeks before the first game is to take place in Brazil [the only country to have won the Cup five times and hosting the series for the first time in more than sixty years], Juraci Santos, his mother, is kidnapped.  Other victims are Juraci’s servants, two young women brutally murdered.

The effect in the country is devastating – does Brazil have a chance of beating Argentina without their star player?  The headlines speak of nothing else, and the pressure on the police, and on Director Mario Silva, is enormous.  The possibilities are endless: the Argentineans themselves; The Artist’s gold-digging girlfriend; his principal rival, who wants to play in Tico’s place; and a man whose career was destroyed when Tico broke his leg in a match.  Or is it just about the $5,000,000 ransom demand?

The usual complement of background factors of this series is present:  The corruption inherent throughout the justice system and the police [to which Silva, called the “sharpest criminal investigator in this country,” is known as an incorruptible exception], and Silva’s colleagues, including charming Haraldo “Babyface” Goncalves [so called because although he is 34 he looks 22].  There is also Fiorello Rosa, PhD and master kidnapper currently serving a 14-year prison sentence, an unlikely expert consulted by Silva to assist in the investigation, with everyone mindful of the fact that the kidnapped woman is likely to be killed before her abductors can be found.  The terrific writing makes this a fast read, and one that is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, December 2011.

Book Review: Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Chomp
Carl Hiaasen
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, March 2012
ISBN 978-0-375-86842-9
Hardcover (ARC)

Teenager Wahoo Cray doesn’t live the life of the average kid. Having a dad who’s a wildlife wrangler with a private zoo, Wahoo has grown up with alligators, monkeys, birds of all sorts, giant tortoises, snakes, you name it. His dad, Mickey, hasn’t done much running of the business, though, since he got a concussion from being hit on the head by a falling iguana that died in a hard freeze. With money running low, Wahoo’s mom has gone to China on a two-month teaching job and she’s depending on Wahoo to keep an eye on his dad.

Wahoo has always looked after all the animals, including a twelve-foot alligator named Alice with movie credits to her name, and he has—or actually doesn’t  have—the missing thumb to prove it (he was showing off to a girl so he can hardly blame Alice). When he takes a call from Expedition Survival! looking for a place to shoot an episode of  the reality TV show starring fake wrangler Derek Badger, Wahoo accepts the job on his dad’s behalf.  After all, a thousand bucks a day plus animal rental fees is awfully hard to resist when you can’t pay the mortgage.  Badger especially wants to shoot scenes with Alice and with Beulah, a fourteen-foot python with a penchant for biting (although she can be persuaded to let go with a slug of liquor).

Who could predict that Derek would go missing in the Everglades after being bitten on the tongue by a bat that crashlanded into his cheesecake crumbs (of course, she wouldn’t have bitten him if he hadn’t tried to eat her for the camera) or that he would convince himself he was going to turn into a vampire? Misappropriated airboats, a drunk with a gun, and a kidnapped Mickey lead to more mayhem and there’s no one ready to come to the rescue except Wahoo and a girl named Tuna Gordon. Can they learn to drive an airboat to get there in time? Will Derek turn into a half-vampire because there’s a half-moon?

Carl Hiaasen never fails to be entertaining and Chomp is no exception. It might be written for young middle-graders but adults will love all the action and craziness, too, and will sort of wish they could visit Wahoo and the family zoo.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor,  December 2011.