Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Tiger’s Wife, by Wade Miller (Third Printing)

Information from the Web site Browned Pages & Broken Spines:
The writing duo of Wade Miller seem to always face off with an overworked bromide like the hidden fatale within the femme, and give it a new shimmering ball gown. But even dressing the alpha female wolf in business suits, then stripping back to wool not fur as a final reveal cannot save this musher from fatally wallowing in its own plot devices.

Our Tiger here is Lucius "Tuan Machan" Bohy, a soldier-of-fortune tired of slopping through Malaysian mud with a Garand after a sack of gold. Immediately, Jill Spring, ahh, springs up as a "helpless honey" (Fawcett Gold Medal #682, c.1951, 3rd printing 1957, p.13) and Luke gets to play Galahad ending with an impetuous marriage. His self-named "unbreakable doll" (p.20), however, holds a pack of surprises including a Bel Air mansion/fortress equipped with phony Hindu servants and a bundle of shifty business practices that've gotten her the rep as "Mystery Woman of the Underworld" (p.46). Gangboss Milton "Big Yaper" Roth has been recently murdered on her estate. Jill brushes all of these "rude facts" (p.41) off by saying she was "fibbing" to make herself "somebody you'd want" (p.42). Besides, she says, "who doesn't like to pretend he's something he isn't?" (p.27).

Luke's fairly simple, but what he's not is a liar, a cheat, or a thief. The novel's fundamental conflict is pretty obvious: victim hero becomes seeker hero while mystery heroine becomes everything else. The fun is in the details, as always, and the plot convolutes into gangster machinations, marriage betrayals, chases, shootouts, and a Pollyanna resolution that ho-hums itself into something easily forgotten. Luke acts predictably with guns 'n' fists a-blastin' and his ego dial set to Pride, Foolish and Stubborn. Jill, however, wisps through the novel like a teasingly-incorporate desert mirage. She's gracious, sexy, witty, and generous, then off-handedly flips out things like "around here you're nobody but my husband" (p.136), illustrating her predatory bitch skin that's capable of murdering her enemies and kidnapping children to ransom more power. She even talks about her marriage wanting a sophisticated relationship where "both be strong and fierce" (p.122) and that Luke is her "remainder, all that was left out of me . . . [We are] one great person" (p.43). In the end, she opts for the ultimate sacrifice, firmly convincing us all that she's in as much heavy denial as Luke was, both parties to a doomed marriage fueled solely by sex and mutual delusion.

And Mr. Tiger gets to go back to prowling, once again "worrying about nothing but rifles and rations" (p.159).
You’ll find more here.

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