Monday, March 22, 2010

Review of The Wild Zone by Joy Fielding

From Winnipeg Free Press --

Fast-moving tale of bet gone wrong --

Reviewed by: Rebeca Kuropatwa --
27/02/2010 --

Fielding's story is gripping.

The Wild Zone
By Joy Fielding

Veteran novelist Joy Fielding's latest suspense outing is a fast-moving tale of a bet that goes terribly wrong.

Fielding is a rarity in Canadian publishing, a writer of successful commercial fiction rather than literary fare.

She has written more than 20 titles since the early '70s, among them such bestsellers as Kiss Mommy Goodbye and See Jane Run, which have been made in TV movies.

Her work is closer in spirit to Danielle Steel's than Margaret Atwood's, melding topical subject matter with no-nonsense storytelling.

The Wild Zone is set in Florida. It stars two 30ish brothers, Jeff and Will, out one night at The Wild Zone, a South Beach bar, with a married friend, Tom.

Tom, who is carrying a gun, has been Jeff's best friend since high school. They enlisted together in the army and served several tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Jeff, now a charismatic personal trainer, had come home a hero, but Tom was dishonourably discharged for an unprovoked assault on an innocent civilian.

Tom returned from Afghanistan a different man -- "a loose cannon." As the story unfolds, Tom's wife takes their kids and leaves him.

Will left Princeton to visit Jeff, needing to "take a break" from his PhD dissertation.

Jeff proposes a $100 bet on who can be the first to sleep with Suzy, an enticing dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty.

Jeff describes Suzy, who is drinking a pomegranate martini alone, as "just waiting for Prince Charming to hit on her."

The trio even enlist the help of Jeff's live-in girlfriend, Wild Zone bartender Kristin.

Little does this threesome know that Suzy is not just a simple deer caught in headlights.

She is secretly married to an abusive husband and is constantly under his watchful eye. As it turns out, Suzy has a lethal agenda of her own.

Kristin approaches Suzy, and comes back to tell Will, "Her name is Suzy and she picked you."

Hesitantly, Will takes a drink over to Suzy, still raw from being jilted by his last girlfriend. Will and Suzy leave the bar together, much to Jeff and Tom's chagrin.

Quickly, the story kicks into a high gear, a wild ride with a life all its own, strewn with surprises and consequences for all parties along the way.

Fielding's characters and plot are strong and well-developed. The story is gripping, always leaving the reader guessing, and culminates in a deliciously untamed twist of a conclusion.

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