Wall Street Journal writer and editor Wells (Meely LaBauve; Junior's Leg) takes his readers on a wild Southern roller-coaster ride in the final installment of his lighthearted Bayou trilogy, focusing on down-and-out widower Logan LaBauve as he tries to pull his life together despite some formidable opposition from law enforcement and the forces of nature. The former dominates LaBauve's maneuvers in the early going: he finds himself stuck in a swamp with his son Meely's friend, Chilly Cox, after an incident with the corrupt police in their Louisiana hamlet lands Meely in jail. Chilly and Logan escape, thanks to Catfish Annie Ancelet, who quickly becomes Logan's romantic interest for this installment. Annie helps Chilly line up a ride to return to his family in Tupelo, but when Logan tags along they get waylaid by two hitchhikers in an extended comedic sequence of cops-and-robbers. Wells shifts gears when Logan takes off for Florida with Annie to follow up on a job offer, but the lovers are stranded when a killer hurricane approaches. Wells is a pro when it comes to inserting plot twists and character foibles, although the romance seems prepackaged and overly gooey in the early going. The transition to the storm subplot is jarring, but Wells compensates with a strong, surprisingly affecting finish in which the stranded lovers try to rescue some local residents. Readers who have enjoyed the first two volumes will be sad to see this successful series come to an end, but Wells has done a fine job of whetting their appetites for his next literary adventure. Agents, Joe Regal and Timothy Seldes. (Sept. 10)
Forecast:Wells—who is on leave from the Wall Street Journal while he researches and writes a book about beer culture in America—should have great stories to tell on the interview circuit and will surely charm readers on his five-city author tour through the South.