Tangled Web UK Review March 2000
File Updated: 11/04/00
Iguana Love Iguana Love by Vicki Hendricks
pbk out May 99 (Serpents Tail) at £8.99
Iguana Love appeared a little while back, but the buzz around it continues to resound. The second novel by Vicki Hendricks is a genuine stunner and proof positive (if anyone still needed it) that deepest, darkest noir is not the sole prerogative of male writers. Iguana Love is raw, graphic - at moments even a bit shocking - and as deliciously nasty a piece of work as you can find. Hendricks is Jim Thompson in a g-string.
Iguana Love tracks the rise/descent (it's all a matter of perspective) of Ramona Romano, a Miami nurse who is looking for more than the nice guy husband and quiet life that she's got. After she discovers scuba diving, bodybuilding and some dangerous men, she ditches hubby and pursues her new interests with the vengeance of a Fury. Those interests lead her into some seriously nasty business, but no matter how far out of control things seem to go, Ramona is always ready to take it one level further. Ultimately her transformation becomes as much physical as it is emotional and psychological, until she lands in a place where even she's scared to be.
There is a truly delicious inevitability about Ramona's dark trajectory in Iguana Love. Even as you know things can only get worse and worse, Hendricks still manages to shock with where she takes her heroine. It's a difficult balancing act to move a character into so unsympathetic a landscape while maintaining identification - this, I think, is why the Thompson analogy is so apt; the book made me think of The Getaway in its feel - but Hendricks manages not to fall off the tightrope. Though the ending is a bit too abrupt, Hendricks drags her readers to places they probably wouldn't choose to go if they had a choice. Her prose isn't brilliant, but it moves and it sustains.
This is dynamite stuff. A star is definitely born.


( Jay Russell - one of the greatest talents the horror industry has produced for some time… (Black Tears))

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