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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Audio Book Review: 'Condominium' by John D. MacDonald with an Introduction by Dean Koontz


Author John D. MacDonald gave us fabulous pieces of literature The Executioners better known today as Cape Fear, and many others along with over twenty Travis McGee novels. Perhaps, John D. is the greatest modern day novelist. Many of today’s best-selling authors boast of his influence on their career. Dean Koontz has often referred to him with remarkable admiration and praise. Demonstrating this is the interesting tribute he wrote about the author in the foreword of the paperback edition of Condominium. Grant it, Koontz did not say much specifically about the novel he was seemingly endorsing, but who would think differently? Probably no one would question his true feelings until he did the introduction on the audio version of the same book where we learn Dean Koontz did not like it quite as much as most of us concluded. The audio version features Dean Koontz saying as much in his own words.


Originally released in 1977, Condominium by John D. MacDonald is now available as an audio-book. The story is immortal; humankind corrupts paradise.  And in 1977 it was not much different than it is in 2015. In fact, outside of the absence of cell phones, I do not recall any time-markers that would suggest the incidents are taking place in another decade. However, no doubt, if the story emerged today, we would eliminate the art of storytelling by making the characters reality stars.

Nonetheless, Condominium is a dramatization of the events and behaviors John D. witnessed as he watched the sunshine, terrain, and water in the “Sunshine State” become an industry that seemingly every opportunist wanted in on. John D.  loved Florida. He lived in Sarasota in the late 50’s when the entire population of the state was only three million. For a young writer, the warm weather and beautiful landscape was inspiring. In interviews, he often spoke of a kinder time as his distaste for the corrupt ideology taking over his beloved Florida grew.

On the surface, it’s about people like many of us that dream of spending their golden years in Florida, splashing around in the waves, shaking the sand out of their shorts, and of course, having a little more fun than the children believe they are having. Indeed, John D. shows us that in the beginning this is the intention of most everyone that moves to Florida’s Golden Sands, but unfortunately things change, people change, and unexpected events happen and as a result paradise becomes a deadly hell filled with corruption and sin of every kind built atop a shaky foundation. 

An excellent read, Condominium is a cross-genre work of fiction by a master. Penguin Random House pens the novel as a noir mystery, a thriller as well as a suspense novel.


Review by Sammy Sutton