Wanted: NY apartment in exchange for a great Key West house with swimming pool. In February. Who wouldn't take a swap like that? Then again, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, as Meg and Peter Kaplan soon discover.
Heading south for a supposed dream vacation, what they find instead is a panic attack waiting to happen. Coconuts crash through windows, bearing cryptic death threats. People fall from palm trees while spying on the pool. Neighbors whisper of Mob connections, leaving the Kaplans to wonder if they'll get whacked by mistake in the Southernmost City or if their cozy West Side co-op has been transformed into a convenient Mafia morgue.
Enter an FBI agent going rogue, a very good girl determined to be very bad, and the irrepressible Bert the Shirt with his chihuahua, and the cast is complete for this riotous Florida romp. Told with Laurence Shames' trademark mix of suspense and comedy, mayhem and romance, crackling dialogue and lush description, Tropical Swap is a vacation you can savor without ever leaving home.
©2014 Laurence Shames (P)2016 Laurence Shames
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This book is everything that’s good about campy mobster stories, packed in a nice and compact 6-hour audiobook.
The characters in this book are simply delicious; the neurotic and paranoid Peter Kaplan who isn’t at all happy about the situation he’s now found himself in with his wonderful, unfazable wife Meg.
They’ve swapped homes for the spring with what might be the world’s most inept gangster, who’s been sent out on a job by his father-in-law. Understandably, this isn’t quite what the Kaplan’s had in mind for their time away from home and they find themselves drawn in to mob activities and then fixed under police scrutiny.
The characters are all caricatures and highly entertaining, from the gruff police detective just looking to be swept away in a grand romance with a bad-girl, and the would-be assassin who has a secret passion for painting. The story is madcap and fast paced, taking us from one funny misadventure to another before you can blink.
‘Romp’ is definitely the right word for this book, it’s comfortingly predictable but very fun to listen to. As the title might suggest, the setting of the book also plays a large point in this story as it’s the character’s strong accents that make it so fun to listen to.
Jem Matzam performs all of the accents wonderfully, bringing all the colourful characters to life and making the story a pleasure to listen to – though I did initially find it quite difficult to concentrate fully on his non-character narration.
There’s not really a lot I can say about this book that you can’t figure out from the synopsis, other than highly recommend it for a holiday road trip – there’s no swearing in this book that I remember and only mild comic violence and very vague sexual references, so it would be suitable for little ears if you’re going anywhere as a family.
Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.
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I enjoyed the first collaboration between Mr. Shames and Mr. Matzan with Key West Luck, but the pair fully hit their stride with Tropical Swap. The book is filled with Mr. Shames trademarks, which include humor, mayhem, mobsters and memorable characters. Highlight characters for me include an oddly matched but highly entertaining married couple, a cranky neighbor with some odd conversational habits and the always fun Bert the Shirt. The narration for Tropical Swap perfectly matched the tone of the book. I look forward to hearing more of the Key West series from Mr. Matzan.
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