Book Review - The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French
I recently received a copy of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French from the Amazon Vine review program. Since it was described as something that fans of Carl Hiaasen would like (and I consider myself part of that group), I was looking forward to a slice of wackiness taking place in Florida. Well, the story *does* take place in Florida, but I certainly didn't find myself thinking "just one more chapter before I turn out the light." The story seemed more bizarre than funny, and I wasn't drawn to any of the characters. At the end, I could only muster a "meh."
The story revolves around Marylou Ahearn, an elderly lady who was unknowingly part of a government experiment involving the ingestion of a radioactive liquid while she was pregnant. Her daughter died of cancer while still a child, and Ahearn wants revenge on the doctor who ran the study. She finds him in Tallahassee, and moves down there to start plotting his demise. But he's become senile, is cared for by his family, and Ahearn has to figure out how to get close enough to him and his family to pull off her plan. As she injects herself into their lives, she finds that all of them have major issues and flaws, and it becomes her goal to expose and tear down the entire family bit by bit before knocking off the doctor. Unfortunately, she finds herself starting to care more about them than she though she would, and the messiness of their lives continue to build until *real* issues start to tear things apart.
Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the characters, so you end up with shifting views throughout the book. I don't think that was all that bad. I believe my main problem is that I didn't end up liking or caring for any of the characters. The mother and father were both losers who were either willfully ignorant or who had checked out of family life. The doctor seemed far more astute than he let on, and you never knew if he understood what he did or if it was forgotten in the recesses of his mind. Two of the three kids were autistic, and they're not treated kindly by the author. The other daughter is portrayed as a responsible sibling who is starved for the attention that she doesn't get from her mother and father. The main character, Marylou Ahearn, is just cruel in some of her plottings. Granted, murder isn't exactly a wonderful thing to be planning, but things like getting the autistic daughter to pose naked for glamor pictures, knowing they'll probably get out to the public, is a bit much to do to a kid who just happens to be part of the doctor's family.
It's too bad I didn't like The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady more than I did. The basic premise sounded promising, but it lost a lot in the telling...
Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program