Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Honeymoon for Three by Alan Cook. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
ISBN-10: 1-4343-0951-7 (1434309517)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4343-0951-8 (9781434309518)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $24.99
Review: For mid-twenties Alfred Ward and his outie bellybutton, life is cruel. Once a high school outcast, now he’s precipitously quit his job as a packer at a grocery store. He’s also discovered that Penny Singleton, one of the two female classmates he had a crush on, has suddenly left L.A. where he has been secretly spying on her. The other classmate mysteriously died just before she was to marry. And now Penny has taken off with her true love, Gary Blanchard. While the reader knows they’ve eloped and are headed for a camping and mountain climbing honeymoon, Alfred has to find out where they’ve gone. So, fired with his fantasies about Penny, Alfred sets out to find her, rescue her from Gary and live happily ever after in a dream world for two. What happens with Alfred and his bellybutton fetish as he pursues the two lovers in Alan Cook’s self-published novel Honeymoon for Three turns the newly-wed’s adventures into a veritable honeymoon from Hell.
A peeping Tom and a stalker, Alfred’s obsession with Penny escalates from a high school crush because she was pleasant to him into a full-blown fantasy that she loves him even though she hasn’t seen him since their high school days. From Alfred’s demented pointed of view that Cook depicts quite well, life will be just fine if only he can get up the nerve to confront Penny and have her express the feelings for him that he knows she harbours. Penny, however, as Cook presents her, is firmly in love with Gary, and he reciprocates her feelings. She hardly knows Alfred exists even though he has been following her and peeking through her window to photograph the mole atop her left breast. Once Alfred learns Penny has left town his infatuation with her explodes into a full-blown obsession and he sets out to find her with bulldog tenacity. He trails her to a wedding chapel in Vegas and manages to disrupt her wedding by a ruse that gets Gary temporarily jailed. Then at the Seattle Space Needle when “he looked like a deer caught in a driver’s headlights,” Penny recognizes him and he mooches along with her and Gary, annoying them until he makes a pass at her, groping “her fabulous innie bellybutton” for which she punches him in the face and they leave him behind.
Alfred, however, doesn’t intend to be left alone with only his outie to play with. But since he doesn’t have much money for gas for his car, he resorts to a heist at a mom-and-pop grocery store as he searches for the loving duo. Predictably, he bungles the job and kills an elderly clerk. Now on the run he ditches his car and covers his tracks but continue his search for the pair as their paths criss-cross through campgrounds, National Parks and lakeside resorts that get the full benefit of Cook’s ability to describe idyllic scenes both of nature and of honeymoon bliss. There are episodes of suspense too as Alfred eludes capture by the police by conning an older couple into giving him a ride in their camper van, a kindness he later repays by stealing the vehicle and embarking on his home-stretch search to find and kill Gary and kidnap or even kill Penny, if necessary if she persists in her mistaken love for Gary. Although the chase drags at times, and there are one or two too many near encounters between Alfred and the honeymooners, he finally overtakes them with the stolen van and the honeymoon from Hell ends in a flurry of naked bellybuttons, stray bullets and revelations about all sorts of things.
Although sometimes jarring in its pacing, Alan Cook’s story is an entertaining romp through the disoriented mind of an obsessive-compulsive and the backwoods of some of the most scenic sites in western America. A resident of southern California, Cook has also authored several other volumes including the Lillian Morgan mysteries, Catch a Falling Knife and Thirteen Diamonds.
Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission
If you are interested in purchasing Honeymoon for Three from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.
Synopsis (from the publisher): It is 1964, 10 years after Gary Blanchard’s high school adventures in The Hayloft. He and his love, Penny, are going on the trip of their lives, and, oh yes, they’re getting married along the way. What they don’t know is that they’re being stalked by Alfred, a high school classmate of Penny who has a bellybutton fetish.
Gary and Penny met through a Los Angeles computer matching service, and they’re positive they’re meant for each other. Penny is afraid that her previous flip attitude toward marriage may jinx her. Her best friend, Emily, was murdered a year ago, two days before her own wedding – and she was ideal marriage material. Why should Penny be luckier?
Alfred has never been successful with girls – he attributes his problems to his outie bellybutton – but he knows that Penny is the girl for him. He intends to get her any way he can, and he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to eliminate Gary.
The suspense crackles amid some of the most scenic spots in the western United States, including Lake Tahoe, Reno, Crater Lake, Seattle, and in Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks, as well as the redwood trees and rocky cliffs of the northern California coast.
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