Christopher Moore,
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
(Spike/Avon, 1999)

Christopher Moore returns to Pine Cove, California, the scene of his first novel Practical Demonkeeping (St. Martin's Press, 1992), for The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.

It's September, and the tourists are gone. Mavis Sand hires a blues player for the Head of the Slug Saloon, Bess Leander hangs herself, and deep in the waters off the coast, Something Big wakes up. Something ... hungry. And horny, as it turns out.

Contributing to the general mayhem is Dr. Valerie Riordan, a local psychiatrist who decides to take all of her patients off antidepressants. The resulting emotional climate, enhanced by Catfish Jefferson's blues-playing, lures the Sea Beast to the shore of Pine Cove. Meanwhile, reluctant constable Theo Crowe is trying to locate a missing paperboy and investigate a possible murder, the townspeople's libidos are raging out of control, and B-Movie queen Molly Michon is fascinated by the new trailer that has appeared next to hers in the Fly Rod Trailer Court.

This description scarcely begins to do justice to the rapid-fire plot, which is told from multiple points of view. The humor in this book isn't quite as over the top as in some of Moore's previous novels, but it is present in smooth, tasty dollops all the same. Moore has a special talent for just the right quick phrase, the perfect level of understatement. Once the plot is set up, the pace never lags until the final resolution.

It is not necessary to have read Practical Demonkeeping first, but readers who have visited Pine Cove before will recognize characters such as Mavis Sand, Howard Phillips (proprietor of H.P.'s Cafe and a man to whom the word "stygian" seems natural) and the omniscient Lt. "Spider" Nailsworth, chief technical officer of the San Junipero Sheriff's Department. (Moore seem to have forgotten the future assigned to Nailsworth in Practical Demonkeeping but that's a minor detail well worth overlooking.)

With a cast of characters just incredible enough to be believable, a loopy and engrossing plot, and more information about Sea Beast sex that you'd ever want to know, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove is a grand way to spend a lazy afternoon or two.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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