The Cactus Club Killings Mass Market Paperback – May 11 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
TV commercial actor and plant aficionado Joe Portugal, having discovered the mutilated body of his close friend and fellow Culver City Cactus Club member Brenda Belinski, decides to test his mettle as an amateur sleuth. Assisted by his best friend, interior designer and computer whiz Gina Vela, Portugal begins interviewing a long list of suspected killers, including Brenda's hot-tempered ex, an international plant smuggler and a lovesick wanna-be botanistAall of whom demonstrate debut novelist Walpow's penchant for eccentric characters. When another member of the CCCC turns up dead under equally bizarre circumstances, Portugal fears he may be next on the list. Soon he is fending off a well-dressed Italian, hired by his ex-con father, who's been blatantly tailing him; questions from overworked police officers; and an attack exploiting his terror of wasps. While some readers may tire of the author's gimmicky, if initially amusing, indulgence in weirdness, Walpow keeps the unlikely assassin effectively under wraps until the end.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Nathan Walpow has been collecting cacti and other succulent plants for over twenty years and has over 400 specimens in his collection. He is the president of the Sunset Succulent Society, located in Los Angeles. In 1997 his short story "This Bud's for You" was the first fiction ever to appear in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, the publication of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America.
Nathan has been writing since 1992. Before that, he had ten years of experience as an actor, working on the stage and on television shows such as Moonlighting, and he is a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion.
Top Customer Reviews
Joe Portugal is a 40 something actor in commercials in Los Angeles who belongs to a club devoted to cacti and succulents. He has the good fortune to be somewhat successful in his career, live in a paid-for house courtesy of his father, and have a best friend (who happens to be female). He has the bad fortune to be be house, plant and bird sitting for the club president when he discovers her dead in the shower with a broken euphorbia stuffed down her throat. Police detective Casillas seems to think Joe knows a bit too much about the victim and type of murder weapon (the euphorbia sap is quite poisonous) and follows Joe about as more murders are committed. It doesn't help Joe's case that the rest of the euphorbia shows up in his greenhouse while the detective is interviewing him the next day.
What I liked most about the book was that no one was phony- even in Los Angeles, people can be normal. Joe wasn't a caricature, neither was Gina (the female friend), nor the police. They weren't supermen- able to take a pounding and then pop up fresh as a daisy ready to run up Mt Everest. Joe's dad is a retired (due to prison time) enforcer who worries about Joe and asks a friend to "watch over" him as Joe continues to investigate the killings. The interactions between characters was lively, funny and true. The situations that develop aren't forced- the coincidences aren't too far out. Maybe it's because I've been suffering thru some really bad fiction recently, I don't know; but this book is a prime example of really good writing, fascinating real characters you get to care about (oh that phrase!Read more ›
LAPD Detective Casilles questions Joe, who swears he does not own an abdelkure. When the police find the remaining segment of the abdelkure in Joe's greenhouse, he becomes a prime suspect. When the vice president of the CCCC is murdered, Joe wonders if he could be next even as the police put him on top of their suspect list. With the help of Gina he begins to investigate Brenda's activities to ferret out a killer before he becomes the next victim.
THE CACTUS CLUB KILLINGS is a very entertaining and humorous amateur sleuth tale. The story line is fun as readers get inside Joe's head as he conducts his inquiries. The characters turn this an enjoyable reading experience. Being inside Joe's head is amusing yet it does help propel the who-done-it forward. The support ensemble adds depth. In his debut novel, Nathan Walpow writes a lovable and believable tale that will leave sub-genre fans desiring sequels.
The book doesn't really fit into either the hard-boiled or cozy category: Joe Portugal may be an amateur sleuth, but there's lots of action to keep things moving. Wait until you have some spare time, because you won't want to stop reading until you find out whodunit.
Most recent customer reviews
Not your garden-variety mystery. A succulent little book, with a down-to-earth detective, a thorny problem, good plot, and very good and believable characters. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 1999