Desert Isle Keeper
Eddie Berlin is a tortured hero with a difference. Haunted by the past, he drinks too much, he meets with prostitutes in a neglected farmhouse, and he is agoraphobic (agoraphobia is literally fear of the marketplace). Yet he is also sensitive and quietly heroic. Maddie Smith, the product of a dysfunctional upbringing, is the perfect match for him. Despite all their problems, these characters are likable.
DJ Maddie Smith has just lost her job. Again. She did something she knew would get her fired – she played a song with words, a taboo at her station. Broke, Maddie decides it’s time to move on. But where? That day, she gets a letter from her sister’s landlady in Chester, Nebraska.
Her estranged sister, Enid, has disappeared. With her life at a crossroads, Maddie decides to find out what’s happened. Once in Chester, Maddie learns that her sister was a prostitute. One of her clients was Eddie Berlin, the former manager of pop star Rick Beck.
Years before, Rick Beck was shot on stage by a crazed fan. Maddie’s landlady blames Eddie for that death. Is there something the public doesn’t know about Rick Beck’s death? Is Eddie Berlin behind Enid’s disappearance?
Maddie visits the reclusive Eddie at his farmhouse. Like the Gothic heroes of long ago, he is brooding and enigmatic, but he also has “poet eyes.” Maddie and Eddie strike sparks from their first meeting. Desperate for answers, she comes back later, pretending to be a prostitute. She only means to talk to Eddie. After all, he’s drunk, what can he do? He can do a lot. She can’t resist him. After giving her virginity to him, she runs away.
Their next meeting is just as intense. Still trying to find out about her sister, Maddie breaks into Eddie’s house. She runs away, but injures herself. Eddie takes care of her. Maddie finally gets to ask about her sister, and he tries to find out if she was trying to steal an unreleased Rick Beck tape.
Eventually, Eddie lets her go. Though she still hasn’t found her sister, Maddie’s life starts to improve. She finds the perfect job, DJ for a station with no format. Meanwhile, Eddie realizes his Rick Beck tape is missing. Right away, he suspects Maddie. Fighting his agoraphobia, he goes to her apartment and confronts her – and is unable to go outside again. Trapped by his fears, he tells Maddie about his agoraphobia, and learns that the tape isn’t all he wants of her. By the end of the night, he no longer cares if she has the tape.
The next day, Maddie comes home to find her apartment trashed. She’s sure it must have been Eddie. But who really trashed her apartment? And who has the Rick Beck tape? The fate of the tape is surprising. This is a book with plenty of surprises. There are a few too many coincidences in the plot, but these coincidences create some of the book’s best surprises. The lead characters are also surprisingly different. Sometimes, Maddie and Eddie make mistakes, but you never feel the author made them act that way to control the plot. Their actions grow out of their personalities.
Like the main characters, the style is intense. This intensity suits the love scenes. The encounters leave just enough to the imagination. And I’ll never look at a staircase in the same way again. Also, I’ve read many novels where the main characters were musicians, but they might as well have been stockbrokers. This isn’t one of them. Music is in their blood.