Key West has been a geographical muse for a gamut of writers from Wallace Stevens to Jimmy Buffett. Cast almost adrift, the last pearl on the string of islands that make up the end of America's East Coast, Key West endures in our imaginations as an expatriate paradise, a pirate hideaway, and a perpetual party. In his debut novel, The Mango Opera, Tom Corcoran does little to shatter these illusions. Indeed, he does quite a bit to fill out the uninitiated reader's understanding of the secretive and steamy history of Cayo Hueso. |
Corcoran's hero, Alex Rutledge is a freelance photographer whose island life has taken a turn for the worse with the recent departure of his girlfriend, Annie Minnette. When he isn't shooting magazine glossies and menu food, Rutledge does a bit of forensic work for local law enforcement agencies. It's easy money until the morning he finds Annie's look-alike roommate posed for some gruesome portraits on the other side of his lens. Police begin to suspect a serial killer as the list of victims grows, and Rutledge suspects something more sinister when he realizes the list of victims reads like a page or two from his own little black book.
Like a tropical chef, Corcoran flavors The Mango Opera with colorful characters, crisp dialogue, island history, and quite a bit of dark but highly appropriate humor. He serves it all up in tasty bites that promise to satisfy almost any mystery lover.--
Although he prefers magazine work, freelance photographer Alex Rutledge won't turn down an occasional crime scene shoot for the City of Key West Police Department. But when a string of murders takes his viewfinder into strangely familiar territory, Alex's mellow island lifestyle shatters. One after another, someone is killing women who have intimately crossed Alex Rutledge's path. Maybe it's a coincidence. Maybe it's a conspiracy. Or maybe he's crazy. But the connection marks Alex as the prime suspect in a case so hot it's drawn in the county sheriff, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. In a desperate race to save his name and his life, Alex dives into a one-man search for the dark, sweltering truth beneath a case that's pounding toward meltdown.