Vicki Hendricks' Florida Gothic Stories is a treat for anybody who likes noir, erotica and Florida. Set in various locations in the state, from the Everglades to the Keys, these stories ooze the flora, the fauna, the floozies and the crackers of that state in a way Carl Hiaasen would find admirably familiar. "Gothic" is a great word to describe these stories, full of horror and romance, the greed of the human heart, and the just plain weird. The story "ReBecca" involves the rivalry of two Siamese twins joined at the head; "Stormy, Mon Amour" is about the love between a woman and a dolphin - and their offspring; "Cold-Blooded Lovers": a man and his iguana.
As may be gathered already, Hendricks has a sly sense of humor that's also gothic with its implied sense of awe and mystery. Take the opening line of "Cold-Blooded Lovers." "The day he flushed his meds and bought a dress for his iguana, Gregory Waxman's real problems were over." How can you read that line and not feel a dark chuckle in your throat?
Hendricks is also known for her erotica, and these stories are fine examples. "ReBecca" was previously anthologized in Best American Erotica 2000," but I found the most erotic writing involved the love between the protagonist and her dolphin lover in "Stormy, Mon Amour," and if that isn't a trick of gothic legerdemain I don't know what is. The noir tale called "The Big O," featuring the 2006 Tropical Storm Beryl, is a noir tale of murder and jealousy set near Lake Okeechobee, from which the story takes its title -
and there's no need to spell out the other meanings of "Big O," is there?
Read these stories for their humor, their intrigue, their hot sex and Florida atmosphere. Just don't read them for moral lessons and any sense of justice!