The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets

Diana Wagman, Author
Diana Wagman. Ig (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-935439-64-6
Reviewed on: 09/03/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-935439-71-4
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A kidnapper in over his head, the naïve 16-year-old Lacy, her deflated mother and dim but sweet father, and a seven-foot iguana populate this tar-black comedy set in Los Angeles. Lacy’s mom, Winnie, is kidnapped by Oren, a reptile enthusiast and carpet salesman conducting a delusional online relationship with Lacy, who has made up stories about an abusive mother to impress Oren. Wagman adroitly builds suspense on several fronts and adds the bizarre comic twist of a kidnapper who is an amateur herpetologist. To accommodate his reptilian “best friend,” Oren keeps his house tropically overheated and has turned the kitchen into a pen. The narrative shifts between Winnie’s captivity and a day in the life of Lacy, who gets booted from class and ends up with Buster, actual boyfriend material, unlike Oren. Wagman has some twists up her sleeve, giving her time to explore Oren’s frighteningly childlike mind in the deliberate runup to a gripping, bloody, and horrifying denouement. Wagman’s talent for imagery is well served by the subject matter, and the story is perfectly paced, with humorous breaks in the tension. A PEN Center USA Award winner (for Spontaneous), Wagman has crafted an unusual thriller for psychological crime devotees and fans of the peculiar. Agent: Terra Chalberg, Chalberg & Sussman. (Nov.)
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