The Wild Zone by Joy Fielding

Cover of "The Wild Zone: A Novel"
Cover of The Wild Zone: A Novel

This is one of those books that while reading it I was not sure I liked it.  It was okay but not riveting.  But the last four pages were so surprising that what I thought about the book changed completely.

The Wild Zone is a bar in Miami where, at some point or another for various reasons, all the characters show up.  It is not where the action takes place but where it starts.

The characters are:

  • Jeff, the handsome, lady-killer type, in his thirties, with some unresolved issues because his mother abandoned him when he was very young.
  • Tom, Jeff’s best buddy since high school, he is violent, stupid, and self-absorbed.
  • Will, Jeff’s younger half-brother, nice guy, sensitive, idolizes Jeff, who can’t stand him.
  • Kristen, sexy barmaid at The Wild Zone, Jeff’s live-in girlfriend, with a sad past.
  • Suzy, scared, abused wife, looking for a way out.
  • Dave, Suzy’s creep of a husband.

Dave is out-of-town and Suzy goes to The Wild Zone, alone, for a couple of drinks. Jeff, Tom, and Will are there killing time telling tall tales and making bets.  One of the bets is that the one  who gets Suzy to take him home with her wins.  What they do not know is that Suzy has a plan and she uses them to put it into motion.

There is a lot going on and all the characters are really sort of sad people who have not gotten beyond the bad in their pasts.  Though the story does move along it all seems pretty predictable.

There is a show down and there is killing and one badly wounded man.  The last chapter had me feeling let down. Like I said, it was predictable but the conclusion seemed incomplete, lacking a finality to it.

Then the last four pages just shocked me.  The ending was so unexpected.  I loved it!

So read the book; it is worth it.

But do not skip ahead and look at those last four pages!

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