I read this book many years ago in paperback. I loved it and finally found the Kindle edition. What a great story, with interesting characters. I would recommend this book to anyone. I just had to have this book on my Kindle. The paperback has turned yellow with age, and several reads. A unique story.
Until this book came out, John Farris had been a tough sell for me. I was the fiction manager at Oxford Books in Atlanta. And though customers trusted my judgment, the garish, even lurid covers Farris had been getting from Tor turned off even readers who generally followed my suggestions. Now, I don't mean the horror crowd to whom his name was known. I mean readers who loved mysteries and thrillers, two genres in which Farris excelled. Suddenly, though, Dragonfly began to fly off the shelves. The cover was a winner with its midnight blue, black and gold. The story had a moving romance at its core. The usual graphic Farris violence was toned down. And the revenge angle was diabolically well played. If Farris had continued in this vein, I still believe he'd have topped the bestseller charts in just a couple more books. But he remains one of the most stubborn, independent writers on this earth. Check out Dragonfly for a delightful intro to the magic of his prose style, his flair for crackling dialogue and his diabolical gift for suspense...and, for a change, a dash of warm romance.
I've been a big fan of John Farris from when he published his first novel -- Harrsion High --while (I believe) he was still a high school student. To me, his best works are The Fury and Sharp Practice. For about the first third of Dragonfly, I thought this book was going to rival his best. However, the last two-thirds became predictable and unrealistic. Farris' depiction of the women in this book are love-starved, easily conned, defenseless and in desparate need of a man's attention. For this male reader, these characters were poorly developed and it seemed more like a Harlequin romance novel than a thriller. While Farris tried hard to create suspense and surprises in Dragonfly, he didn't succeed as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully, Farris will recapture his ability to create edge-of-the-seat suspense, strong plots and credible characters. I'll be looking forward to the return of the "old" Farris in his future books.
When Farris writes straight thrillers, they're pretty gritty. This is one of his grittiest. A CIA adventurer, recovering from having bitten off more than he could chew, finds himself falling in love with a besieged heiress. The usual cast of stock Southern baddies have their own agendas for the heiress' money - but, of course, there's this little problem of getting her out of the way, first. Nothing you haven't read or seen before, but Farris writes it splendidly. This one's mostly in the Phillip Marlowe mold, a crime novel set in a decaying Southern manse as opposed to the streets of the city. If you like that kind of thing, jump on in. The water's fine.
If you like the first few pages read somewhere in the middle before you buy the book. I picked it up from the library based on what I expected to be an economically written thriller (first hundred pages or so) and found myself in such a confused zoo (characters, writing, and plot) that I cannot believe the same person wrote both parts unless there was some tragic event in his life about page 100 or the deadline situation became so desperate that anything would do. I believe the last part of the book is "southern gothic" of which I know nothing (based on this example everyone goes hysterical, guilty and stupid) so this is not saying you won't like it, just be warned if you are looking for a thriller or a coherently written book.
This was my first John Farris book and I was really surprized at how interesting it was. Without giving anything away, I could not believe how well he wrapped up so many plot twists at the end. If you like Dean Koontz or books like that, you will love this book.
I thought Dragonfly was a great thought-provoking novel. When I read the last words inside the jacket, I was thinking 'what does that mean?' I found out when I really got into the book and it got me more interested. This book is a real find. I strongly recommend it for anyone who likes John Farris.