Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Last Resort by Pat Nolan

I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun reading a book.  That means I read “The Last Resort” slowly, savouring each chapter; allowing the previous chapter’s outrageous plot twist to settle in. 

The author, Pat Nolan, was completely successful at suspending my disbelief, but keeping things right at that edge.  The characters are developed, revelation by revelation, like a simmering paella on a slow burner. 

It’s sort of a classic detective/murder mystery in the Chandleresque style.  But we, the readers are faced with a gorgeous, blond supermodel instead of a grizzly shamus.  The incongruity is right there, up front for the reader to have to come to grips with, every chapter.  The author pushes, but it’s so intriguing, that we are successfully bonded to this bitchy, spoiled Lee Malone.

Another aspect of the Lee Malone “Adventure” is that it takes place in California’s remote Western Russian River area.  Again, the author has tactfully avoided making this a “local’s” niche-market only book.  The remoteness is an integral part of the plotline, but it could be anywhere in the world.  Still, for true locals, there are plenty of scenes and people to be recognized.

I mentioned the outrageous plot twists in the opening lines of this commentary.  These go on right up to the end.  It’s hard to figure who’s good and who’s bad.  Of course, the bigest twist on the classics is with the detective being an over-thirty supermodel who frequently finds herself scantily clad.  But the reason this book is so much fun is that Nolan introduces something wildly weird with each chapter: drugs, arson, motorcycles, kidnapping, murder, or porn.  Strangely, this all works – maybe I have been living in this area too long; or maybe Pat Nolan has; or maybe he’s just a good author who can spin a great yarn.

Whether tongue-in-cheek or not; and whether the author simply wants to cram as much as possible into this first Lee Malone Adventure, or not: this book, “The Last Resort”, makes a delicious summer read, of something stimulating to go with a northern coast salmon steak and a Russian River Pinot.

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