Chances are you’ll be finding all sorts of anomalies on your doorstep come Halloween, so in the spirit of the season I submit for your consideration the works of two Bainbridge Island writers who serve up plenty of aberrant behavior and general oddity.
Ken Bennett’s novel, “Exodus 2022,” is a dystopian tale that takes place primarily along the West Coast. Episcopalian priest Joe Stanton had gone to the San Juan Islands with his girlfriend Ella, intending to propose marriage. Instead he has what appears to be a psychotic meltdown in the hotel – repeatedly screaming for “Lorna Gwin” and saying that something bad has happened to his daughter.
Except Joe doesn’t have a daughter.
It isn’t until later that authorities learn that there have been a few other identical breakdowns along the Pacific Coast – the sufferers have called out the same name, made the same claim that Lorna Gwin is their daughter, and then physically collapsed.
All the others who experienced this trauma could not be revived. Perhaps Joe’s survival has something to do with Ella’s vocation as a nurse – she knows how to take good care of him. But more likely it can be attributed to the excellent emergency care he received aboard a hospital ship that conveniently happened to be sailing by the island. Joe’s treatment is gratis – thanks to the largesse of billionaire weapons magnate Sheldon Beck, who owns the ship.
Once Joe is released, he encounters a dizzying string of fellows with compromised morals and nefarious plans in the works. Joe and Ella have to scamper all over Western Washington and eventually to Montana to get to the bottom of the treachery and try to avert global calamity.
An eco-friendly ethic underlies the plot, and a there is a surprising twist at the end. However, “Exodus 2022” seems to be 80-100 pages too long.
The other book is “Paradise Rot,” which reads like a cheerful cross between Jimmy Buffett, David Sedaris and “Z Nation.”
Author Larry Weiner regales us with the career of Kyle Brightman, who seems to be reversing his recent downward spiral (from advertising industry to psych ward) when he lands a job as the art director for a new resort on a Caribbean island. Kyle is a little surprised by the bargain prices the resort is offering to induce low-profile, working-class Americans to come for a tropical vacation.
Maybe he should have gotten suspicious when he noticed that all of his colleagues sported spray-on tans.
Weiner romps through this science fiction/thriller with gleeful impunity. His protagonist, though a veritable “babe in the palm fronds,” soon finds himself dealing with a factionalized zombie society as well as a faux Rastafarian seaplane captain, a glamorous assassin, a talking Chihuahua on wheels, and more.
If you have a skewed sense of humor, you’ll enjoy “Paradise Rot,” which is the first book in a trilogy. But if you’re offended by zombies, I advise avoiding the book, locking the door on Halloween, and hoarding the candy.
THIS WEEK'S BOOKS
“Exodus 2022,” by Kenneth G. Bennett
“Paradise Rot,” by Larry Weiner
The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.