The Bottom Line: Love, jealousy and dark comedy collide in this engrossing small town revenge thriller with a shocking twist.
Longtime bachelor Ron Burley has always steered clear of married women. But Lavender LeClair – the youngest daughter of the town’s lone chiropractor – proves too strong to resist, and the two embark on a passionate affair. Little do they know that the real threat isn’t Lavender’s unsuspecting husband, but Marta, Burley’s possessive childhood friend and former lover.
Author Regina Buttner deftly co-mingles danger and absurdity throughout the story. In one of the book’s most entertaining conversations, a confused Lavender, who has been led to believe that Marta is dead, gets this advice from her psychic: “Whether this woman is dead or not, you need to understand that she may be dangerous.” Elsewhere, Lavender hilariously buys her puffer jacket a size too small so as to show off her curves. Meanwhile, lone ranger Burley prefers a plate of tater tots to Lavender’s universal late-night booty call text: “U still up?”
Set in upstate New York, Buttner perfectly captures upstate New York culture, nailing the details of bass boats, mud-splattered All Terrain Vehicles, late-night fishing shows and grocery runs to Walmart. That goes double for the paranoia about “everyone” knowing the sordid details of each others’ lives. In Buttner’s world, the entire town population is portrayed as one, all-knowing, gossip-crazed monolith.
Even in a book that often reads as dark comedy, the actions of its characters have very real consequences. We are completely mesmerized by Buttner’s seemingly effortless, casual storytelling style. But buckle up, readers, because nothing can prepare you for its shocking conclusion.