Some years ago David Athey sent me his first book Danny Gospel, which I reviewed here. Almost a decade has past and I can still remember that book vividly. As a constant reader books usually get lost in the fiction fog for me over time.
So when he wrote to tell me his third book was available I immediately bought it. Joan of the Everglades.
He described it as “comedy-thriller with a nod to Chesterton.”
Joan Dior is an edgy teen artist who finds a corpse in a Florida lagoon, vows to find the killer, and becomes the target of a billionaire and his death cult who believe they have regrown the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
Joan and her best friend, Mia, along with their two guy friends, Dontey and Rico, get drawn into the middle of the Everglades and must battle not only the cult but also giant pythons, alligators, and a Komodo dragon … during a killer storm … while methane gas bursts into hellish flames all around them. Good times. Everyone will probably die. Unless . .
His first novel reminded me of Flannery O’Connor, but his latest brings me more to the mind of Walker Percy with a dose of C.S. Lewis style allegory. As a comedy I was amused throughout, especially with the “Dear reader” notes intertwined. It works quite well as a thriller as the story briskly moves along and surprised me several times along the way. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
My only complaint is that as it moved to the final chapters dealing with Joan and Mia, I was wondering about the reactions of the characters setup in the first half dealing with spiritual welfare. Although thinking back, maybe this was a feature – not a bug in that there is a very connected point to this setup.