Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Serpent's Bite by Warren Adler

  • Name: The Serpent's Bite
  • Author: Warren Adler
  • ISBN: 9781590060445
  • Genre: Mystery/Suspense
  • Publisher: Stonehouse Press
  • Publication/Expected Publication: September 4, 2012
Wow.  I read this book in about 6 hours or so; it is so unlike any other book I have ever read.  Although written in the third person, there are point-of-view chapters for the three main characters throughout the book.  There is also one point-of-view chapter for a key player at the end of the book.  This provides some great insight into the psyches of these clearly disturbed individuals.

George Temple has been estranged from his children, Courtney and Scott, since his wife's untimely death.  Desperate to bridge the gap before he "shuffle[s] off this mortal coil," he reaches out to his children in the hope to recreate a memorable family camping trip through Yellowstone.  Courtney and Scott - both in their late 30s - agree to the trip in the hopes of milking their father for more money to support their perpetually failing enterprises.  George - referred to as "Temple" or "Dad" throughout the book - has even gone so far as to hire the guide (or outfitter) from their original trip, Harry McGrath.

Their trip begins awkwardly, not just because of the estrangement, but also because Harry has provided only one assistant - Tomas - instead of the two George had requested.  As the trip progresses, dark motives as well as dark secrets are revealed.  Past transgressions haunt one sibling, but not the other.  As Harry becomes less and less reliable, the reader is left wondering: just how far will Temple's children go in order to secure their financial future?  Who will make it out of Yellowstone alive?


[Trigger Warning for Sibling Incest]

Given the codependent - not to mention incestuous - relationship between Courtney and Scott as well as their apparent careless disregard for their father, I found it hard to be on their side.  Their points of view (especially Courtney's) made it very clear their only motivation in attending this dysfunctional family reunion was to attain more money. 

Even though I found their motivations distasteful, I was still fascinated by the insights the author provided.  Courtney (and to a lesser degree Scott, until the end of the book) have no qualms about offing dear old daddy in the name of gaining their substantial inheritance.  I have to admit I was wondering if (and how) the author would be able to wrap this story up.  I was definitely not disappointed!  It had all the marks of a genuine Shakespeare tragedy.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

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