cover image Borrow Trouble

Borrow Trouble

Mary Monroe, Victor McGlothin, . . Dafina, $24 (297pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-1223-8

Monroe (God Don't Like Ugly ) and McGlothin (Down on My Knees ) each contribute a short novel to this curiously packaged product. Monroe's Nightmare in Paradise features 31-year-old Renee, a second grade teacher and self-proclaimed "Miss Goody Two-Shoes" who, with wild best friend Inez, goes to the Caribbean to "get loose." Frustration with her own meek nature and an admission by Inez—she slept with Renee's husband before they married—propel Renee into a one-night stand that results in her arrest for prostitution. When husband Leon won't pony up the fine, Renee is jailed for three months—plenty of time to decide who stays in her life. Monroe's earnest melodrama suffers, however, from its proximity to McGlothin's dazzling Bad Luck Shadow . Set in 1946, the story's hero is Baltimore Floyd, a dashing scoundrel with charisma to burn. Fleeing Harlem and a gambling debt, Baltimore steals into a neon-lit Kansas City, where he holes up in old love Franchetta's cathouse and plans the takedown of a high-stakes card game. McGlothin's tale is sophisticated and sexy, with the plotting and pacing of first-rate noir. If cross-promotion is the impetus for this project, Monroe may earn a few new readers, but McGlothin's fan base is sure to swell. (Dec.)