Miami Purity

Vicki Hendricks, Author Pantheon Books $20 (199p) ISBN 978-0-679-43988-2
White trash women find a voice for the ages in Henricks's simple yet searing first novel. Sherry Parlay, 36, may be the most oversexed antiheroine in noir-a genre rife with hotblooded femmes-and she's one of the more fatale, in the first sentence here knocking her ``old man'' dead after he slugs her. Sherry slays two more people before her story ends, but killing isn't what she does best: ``He climbed on top and I put a bite on that lower lip. We got a sweat worked up real fast. He had me lathered inside and out. He was all I could take, but I could take him over and over.'' The guy who just ``got his'' is Payne Mahoney, hunky underboss of the Miami dry cleaner where Sherry has gone to work to escape the fate of an aging stripper. The overboss is Payne's mom, who turns out also to be sleeping with Payne-a situation Sherry remedies by suffocating her rival with a plastic clothes bag. It's at this point that Hendricks's tale loses some of its power, as the plot unravels like a tossed ball of thread: Jim Thompson this author may want to be, but she isn't. Further killings and sexual betrayals seem contrived, and characters appear to act not out of natural motivation but simply to propel the increasingly predictable plot. Still, the self-loathing Sherry remains as mesmerizing as a rattler about to strike (readers' knuckles will whiten as she plays Russian roulette with a .357 magnum inserted into an orifice that isn't her mouth). And, if what Hendricks finally offers us is a one-note novel, it's a piercing one that few will forget. Author tour. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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FORMATS
Paperback - 978-0-679-76800-5
Hardcover - 978-0-517-19367-9
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