Michael Mewshaw, Author . Putnam $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-15221-4

Mewshaw (Shelter from the Storm , etc.) carves out a piece of Florida retirement turf for this leisurely thriller, in which a crippled ex-con and his widower neighbor join forces to become unlikely partners in crime. "Not your usual SMOPs, the Slow-Moving Old People, the shrunken, sun-crusted peanuts who plugged the arteries of the rest of Florida," Mewshaw writes about the residents of Eden, the upscale island where his two damaged protagonists live. Frank Pritchard, a sad and bitter former executive who helped create Eden but was forced out of the company while his wife was dying, reads The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook for pleasure. In the house next door, Cal Barlow—a mysterious paraplegic protected by a federal witness program—copes with his troubles in more physical ways. Ariel, a South African physical therapist, and Randi, a "trophy wife currently between husbands," round off the quartet, as Frank and Cal become friends and allies. Frank is determined to get revenge on his former colleagues, and Cal has plenty of advice to give. In the end, however, it's Cal's past that catches up with the duo. Mewshaw has an uncanny ear for dialogue and razor-sharp descriptive powers, but too little happens in this sun-baked crime caper. Agent, Timothy Seldes at Russell & Volkening. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
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