The Plunder Room

John Jeter, Author
John Jeter, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $24.95 (295p) ISBN 978-0-312-38065-6
Reviewed on: 11/03/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009

War, secrets and father-son dynamics haunt a South Carolina family estate in Jeter's middling debut. The novel's wheelchair-bound narrator, Randol Duncan, seeks to unlock his grandfather's war chest, or Plunder Room, at the top of a steep staircase. While Randol's desire develops, present-day problems crash into the old house: his half-brother, Jerod, arrives with a gorgeous Yankee whose “azure eyes dance like Fred and Ginger” and who sparks frequent controversy. And while Randol and his son, Eddie, may share some laughs over family hijinks and an interest in rock music, the boy's teenage rebellion swoops from the use of “guyliner” to resisting his father's wish that he date a girl from school. But the big news that shocks Randol has to do with the true nature of his father's business. Add in a mysterious African-American caller and an Internet sex scandal, and you've got an overplotted tangle that builds toward a thin anticlimax. Randol is engaging enough as a narrator, but the story he tells is a letdown. (Jan.)