A darkly humorous caper novel that offers strong entertainment, Publishers Weekly A compulsive gambler goes to his sister s funeral on Florida s Treasure Coast and gets saddled with her loser son, who is deep in debt to a vicious loan shark who sends a pair of sociopathic thugs to collect on the loan But things go horribly awryand soon the gambler finds himself in the center of an outrageous kidnapping plot involving a conman selling mail order tombstones, a psychic who channels the dead, including the wife of a wealthy businessman As if that wasn t bad enough, a killer hurricane is looming It s Get Shorty meets No Country for Old Men on a sunny Florida coast teeming with conmen and killers, the vapid and the vain, and where violent death is just a heartbeat away PRAISE FOR TOM KAKONIS Simply tremendous Tom Kakonis writing is on a level with El Leonard, Chicago Tribune Kakonis is a sharp new gambler in the literary crap game he just takes the pot The New York Times Aptly compared to El Leonard, Kakonis builds exquisite tensionsteamy with a high rent, low life atmosphereand an unforgettable cast Publishers Weekly A cold deck nightmare of high stakes peril, Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter s Bone A sure narrative voice, a richly shaded hero and heroine, nightmare vivid villains, and a plot paved with switchbacks and big curves add up to classy, if brutal, crime entertainment this one cooks, Kirkus Reviews Tom Kakonis is a master of the low life novel Nobody does it better Ross Thomas


10 thoughts on “Treasure Coast

  1. James Thane James Thane says:

    In the late 1980s and early 90s, Tom Kakonis established himself as a writer who created very good plots but who was especially gifted at populating each of his books with a cast of eccentric, interesting characters and then setting them into motion with sometimes truly inspired results Now twenty years later, he returns with Treasure Coast, a book which clearly demonstrates that he hasn t lost a step in his time away.The book is set on Florida s Treasure Coast, basically the Palm Beach area a In the late 1980s and early 90s, Tom Kakonis established himself as a writer who created very good plots but who was especially gifted at populating each of his books with a cast of eccentric, interesting characters and then setting them into motion with sometimes truly inspired results Now twenty years later, he returns with Treasure Coast, a book which clearly demonstrates that he hasn t lost a step in his time away.The book is set on Florida s Treasure Coast, basically the Palm Beach area along the Atlantic It opens as Jim Merriman, a compulsive gambler whose luck has turned so bad that he s now barely eking out a living as a bookstore clerk, travels cross country to visit his sister who is near death Jim and his sister have not been particularly close for years, but as she expires she makes him promise to watch after her son, Leon.Leon is twenty one but appears to be much younger His mother has left him 25,000, and so Merriman figures that the kid should be in pretty good shape, at least until Leon reluctantly confesses that he owes 45,000 to a loan shark The debt is long overdue and even as Leon outlines his problem, two particularly nasty enforcers are on their way to collect It was Uncle Jim who taught the kid how to gamble in the first place and that, along with the promise he made to Leon s mom, persuades Jim that he can t abandon his nephew in this time of crisis.On the brighter side, while sneaking a cigarette outside the medical center, Jim encounters the very beautiful and sexy Billie Swett Like Jim, Billie hails from the Dakotas and has had an interesting past, culminating in a job where she gave manicures at a place called Get Nailed There she fortunately met a client named Lonnie Swett Lonnie is an older, gross, pig of a man, but he s also enormously wealthy and when he offers make Billie the fifth Mrs Swett, she readily agrees to swap her nail files for a huge diamond wedding set Jim and Billie are clearly attracted to each other, though, and probably no good will come of that.Kakonis adds to the cast a preacher with a mail order degree who, with a young female assistant, is selling mail order tombstones and helping bereaved and gullible rubes send and receive messages to and from their loved ones in the Great Beyond Kakonis then turns all of these people loose in pursuit of their various objectives, most of which involve a quick score of one sort or another As all of their paths intersect, the plot becomes increasingly roiled but Kakonis has a great deal of fun with these characters, and so does the reader.The characters are all very well defined, and, with perhaps one exception, each is sympathetic in his or her own way The story is very engaging and often hilariously funny As another Michigan writer, Kakonis has often been favorably compared to El Leonard and, on the strength of his earlier series featuring Timothy Waverly, I thought it was a very fair comparison With Treasure Coast, Kakonis demonstrates that he clearly deserves to be considered in the same league as Leonard, certainly in the quality of his output if not in the quantity Set in Florida, Treasure Coast also evokes comparisons to Carl Hiaasen, and fans of either author are sure to enjoy this book very much


  2. Bandit Bandit says:

    Well, this turned out to be wayawesome than I had any reason to expect it to be Never heard of the author, not even huge on tales of low life bumbling criminals per se, but Kakonis spun such a fun yarn here with a genuinely original wild cast of characters and plenty of humor There is a great charm to the author s style, his writing has a cadence and a vernacular of its own and the quality is way above what is traditionally customary of the genre Florida is about to be washed clean by a Well, this turned out to be wayawesome than I had any reason to expect it to be Never heard of the author, not even huge on tales of low life bumbling criminals per se, but Kakonis spun such a fun yarn here with a genuinely original wild cast of characters and plenty of humor There is a great charm to the author s style, his writing has a cadence and a vernacular of its own and the quality is way above what is traditionally customary of the genre Florida is about to be washed clean by a hurricane Chris, which may or may not interfere with scamming, kidnapping and murder, not to mention romance and manicure Wildly cinematically entertaining book Very enjoyable Highly recommended Thanks Netgalley


  3. Sam Reaves Sam Reaves says:

    Tom Kakonis wrote some good thrillers back in the nineties and then dropped out of sight now he s back with another entertaining look at the way dysfunctional low lifes live and conduct business A reformed gambler is called to his dying sister s bedside in Florida she asks him to look out for her hapless goof of a son The son is deep in debt to a bookie, who has just dispatched two arm breakers to collect the debt Meanwhile a phony preacher and his female assistant have dreamed up a new way Tom Kakonis wrote some good thrillers back in the nineties and then dropped out of sight now he s back with another entertaining look at the way dysfunctional low lifes live and conduct business A reformed gambler is called to his dying sister s bedside in Florida she asks him to look out for her hapless goof of a son The son is deep in debt to a bookie, who has just dispatched two arm breakers to collect the debt Meanwhile a phony preacher and his female assistant have dreamed up a new way to get gullible people to throw money at them, and a gazillionaire s trophy wife who has caught the gambler s eye is one of their first targets All of the above collide as a hurricane approaches the title coast One blurb compares Kakonis to El Leonard, but the resemblance is only in that they both write about dead enders and the people who prey on them Kakonis s style is very different Where Leonard s is laconic and subdued, Kakonis brings a highly literate and sometimes downright florid style to the subject matter The effect is playful and ironic, at odds with the bleakness and violence of the characters lives.Which makes for an interesting read Here s hoping Kakonis hasup his sleeve


  4. Peter Peter says:

    After a ten year vacation from publishing 1994 to 2013 , Tom Kakonis returns with Treasure Coast 2014 His books are character filled mysteries with a no nonsense cadence, complex plots, great dialogue, and lots of wry wit.In Treasure Coast we meet Jim Merriman as he visits his dying sister in the hospital He s in the waiting room when a striking fortyish woman name Billie Swett arrives to have a spirit centering session with another dying woman Billie flits her eyelids and offers charis After a ten year vacation from publishing 1994 to 2013 , Tom Kakonis returns with Treasure Coast 2014 His books are character filled mysteries with a no nonsense cadence, complex plots, great dialogue, and lots of wry wit.In Treasure Coast we meet Jim Merriman as he visits his dying sister in the hospital He s in the waiting room when a striking fortyish woman name Billie Swett arrives to have a spirit centering session with another dying woman Billie flits her eyelids and offers charismatic smiles as she and Jim discuss death and centeredness, then she departs for her appointment Just before she dies, Merriman s sister extracts from him a promise that he will take care of her 20ish son, Leon Merriman is a man who breaks promises as casually as he makes them, but this deathbed promise haunts him How far must he go in taking care of Leon How long is the term of the contract His concern skyrockets when he discovers that Leon has amassed 45,000 in debt to a Miami gambler named Berkowitz who dearly wants the kid to pay. Hector and Junior, Berkowitz s receivables specialists, are closing in on Leon and Jim Hector is the straight man while Junior does the heavy work and talks a blue streak in a magnificent street jargon that obfuscatesthan it communicates Junior is definitely not PC and he might be the crudest character I ve met in a crime thriller his disregard for women is appalling to see But Junior is funny.The scene shifts to the 65th birthday dinner of Lonnie Swett, Billie s husband, a loquacious bore, and a tremendous boor Lonnie s life story is his rise from garbage man to trash collector to wealthy owner of shops that sell refurbished discards to poor blacks Lonnie doesn t just think he made it in this universe, he thinks he made this universe And everyone has heard his life story of garbage to riches many times Lonnie, like Junior, is a pig and Billie works hard for her money Lonnie s efforts at humor are painful for example, he names one of his divisions Swett Equity Throw into the mix the Reverend B Noble Bott, a scam artist with a truly Dickensian name The Reverend and his assistant, Wanetta, sell mail order tombstones give him a 20 percent deposit and don t expect to see him again or a tombstone in your future Bott has a career changing vision as he sells a tombstone to a couple whose daughter, Lujean, is dying He and Wanetta go into the s ance business to soothe the souls of those left behind A connection is made when the hard working Billie Swett, that devotee of spiritual centeredness, brings his first client Thus Kakonis assembles his cast in the standard three legged stool formation common to fiction the Merriman Leon receivables specialist leg, the B Noble Bott Wanetta leg, and the Lonnie Swett Billie Swett leg Kakonis flips the blender to ON and we watch as the action develops At one point Billie is kidnapped by Merriman, Leon, Hector and Junior in a Bott created plan to collect a five million dollar ransom, pay off Berkowitz, and split the net All five have to live together till Lonnie decides on paying the ransom, but Lonnie is equivocating because he has a detective called Cheetah tracking Billie down Billie is undaunted by her kidnapping, noting with pleasure, I ve never been kidnapped before Then she becomes den mother for her kidnappers, organizing them to do the shopping and clean the dump up Men might fight and shoot each other, but women rule This is among the very funny episodes in Kakonis s lively tale of dishonor among thieves.The kidnapping plan goes off the rails and spirals into violence, putting the lives of the good guys at risk Then the hurricane arrives Enjoy the ride Four stars


  5. Cheryl Cheryl says:

    Warning There is crude language used in this book So if you are easily offended, don t pick up this book or you have been warned Which the language did not bother me so much It was I guess the author s writing style I could not really get used to it Although I did sense a bit of Black comedy humor Which I have read a couple books like this and they do take a bit of getting used to This style really is kind of a love or hate and no real in between Ok so to back petal a little I don t Warning There is crude language used in this book So if you are easily offended, don t pick up this book or you have been warned Which the language did not bother me so much It was I guess the author s writing style I could not really get used to it Although I did sense a bit of Black comedy humor Which I have read a couple books like this and they do take a bit of getting used to This style really is kind of a love or hate and no real in between Ok so to back petal a little I don t mind the black humor but I would have appreciated itif I really could have found my groove and gotten into the story and the characters There are many characters all with different personalities I just was not feeling them Courtesy of WikiA black comedy or dark comedy is a comic work that employs black humour, which, in its most basic definition, is humor that makes light of otherwise serious subject matter Black humor corresponds to the earlier concept of gallows humorOrigin of the termThe term black humor from the French humour noir was coined by the surrealist theoretician Andr Breton in 1935, To designate a sub genre of comedy and satire in which laughter arises from cynicism and skepticism often relying on topics such as death


  6. Randy Randy says:

    Brash Books, founded by Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman, publishes both new and old books that interest them Mostly crime, but other genres as well.TREASURE COAST was my first book by Tom Kakonis and I must say I was impressed A lot goes on between the covers Former gambler, Jim Merriman, retired because of a run of bad luck, comes to Florida s Treasure Coast because his sister is dying from cancer, She extracts a promise from her brother to look after her son, a twenty one year old screw up na Brash Books, founded by Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman, publishes both new and old books that interest them Mostly crime, but other genres as well.TREASURE COAST was my first book by Tom Kakonis and I must say I was impressed A lot goes on between the covers Former gambler, Jim Merriman, retired because of a run of bad luck, comes to Florida s Treasure Coast because his sister is dying from cancer, She extracts a promise from her brother to look after her son, a twenty one year old screw up named Leo Cody Things are much worse than Merriman knew when he learns the boy has large gambling debts and a pair of thuggish collectors are looking for him It doesn t take them long to get involved in a bizarre kidnapping plot with the two collectors, a phony conman preacher and his partner who converses with the dead, and the victim a sexually charged woman that doesn t seem to get the gravity of the situation.Did I mention the hurricane drawing down on the Florida coast Author Tom Kakonis sets all these characters up nicely in the first part and the reader gets a racehorse thriller that I couldn t flip the pages fast enough Terrific thriller


  7. Alecia Alecia says:

    In addition to comparisons of Tom Kakonis s writing to El Leonard and perhaps Carl Hiaason, I would also add Donald Westlake in his humorous mode to that list My favorite characters were the bogus preacher and his partner in crime, Waneta I loved the flowery prose the preacher spouted while carrying out his cons and scams Although I enjoyed the first half of this book quite a bit, and especially some of the characters, I did not think the second half worked as well in keeping with the hu In addition to comparisons of Tom Kakonis s writing to El Leonard and perhaps Carl Hiaason, I would also add Donald Westlake in his humorous mode to that list My favorite characters were the bogus preacher and his partner in crime, Waneta I loved the flowery prose the preacher spouted while carrying out his cons and scams Although I enjoyed the first half of this book quite a bit, and especially some of the characters, I did not think the second half worked as well in keeping with the humorous flow, and I found it lagged a bit The language spouted out by one of the hardened criminals was offensive, although I realize Kakonis was using this to define his awful character And the violence in the latter part of the book comes suddenly and jarred my enjoyment of the first part of the story But I appreciated his writing, and I remember reading him years ago


  8. Louis Louis says:

    Noir storytelling does not have to be set in the dead of night to be dark It can occur in sunny locales like the South Florida of Tom Kakonis s tale of a cardsharp, the grifters and toughs he meets and the woman he may love Maybe it s just me but there s one thing that noir must be brief For this type of storytelling to cast the proper spell, go easy on the prose Say a lot with a little While Kakonis writes well, he takes too long to get to the point way too often Since he seems to take E Noir storytelling does not have to be set in the dead of night to be dark It can occur in sunny locales like the South Florida of Tom Kakonis s tale of a cardsharp, the grifters and toughs he meets and the woman he may love Maybe it s just me but there s one thing that noir must be brief For this type of storytelling to cast the proper spell, go easy on the prose Say a lot with a little While Kakonis writes well, he takes too long to get to the point way too often Since he seems to take El Leonard as a model for his tale, he should have taken to heart Dutch s rule to take out all the parts people don t read Unfortunately, I found myself skimming many of the passages, looking for dialogue to break the monotony Also, he could take a lesson or two from Leonard about making his villains a bitdistinctive and even a bit likable Three and a half stars should have been


  9. Col Col says:

    Synopsis blurb.Treasure Coast is the wild new thriller from Tom Kakonis, the acclaimed author of Criss Cross and Michigan Roll.A compulsive gambler goes to his sister s funeral on Florida s Treasure Coast and gets saddled with her loser son, who is deep in debt to a vicious loan shark who sends a pair of sociopathic thugs to collect on the loan But things go horribly awryand soon the gambler finds himself in the center of an outrageous kidnapping plot involving a conman selling mail order Synopsis blurb.Treasure Coast is the wild new thriller from Tom Kakonis, the acclaimed author of Criss Cross and Michigan Roll.A compulsive gambler goes to his sister s funeral on Florida s Treasure Coast and gets saddled with her loser son, who is deep in debt to a vicious loan shark who sends a pair of sociopathic thugs to collect on the loan But things go horribly awryand soon the gambler finds himself in the center of an outrageous kidnapping plot involving a conman selling mail order tombstones, a psychic who channels the dead and the erotically super charged wife of a wealthy businessman As if that wasn t bad enough, a killer hurricane is loomingIt s Get Shorty meets No Country for Old Men on a sunny Florida coast teeming with conmen and killers, the vapid and the vain, and where violent death is just a heartbeat away Kakonis is a sharp new gambler in the literary crap game he just takes the pot The New York Times Aptly compared to El Leonard, Kakonis builds exquisite tensionsteamy with a high rent, low life atmosphereand an unforgettable cast Publishers Weekly Tom Kakonis is a master of the low life novel Nobody does it better Ross Thomas My take.Tom Kakonis is one of my favourite authors of all time a judgement I have arrived at on the strength of reading 4 of his books Kakonis first came to my attention in the late 80 s with the superb Michigan Roll a tale about a former college professor cum professional gambler cum ex jailbird.After a fairly long absence from the publishing scene and now thanks to the dynamic duo of Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman and their recently spawned love child Brash Books he s back.Treasure Coast is fast, funny, black, violent, irreverent and politically incorrect populated by a cast of predominantly misfits, losers and failures In short my kind of book.We cross paths with Jim Merriman, a failed gambler and reluctant uncle, assuming responsibility for his na ve and bewildered nephew, Leon who just happens to owe 45k Jim and Leon are soon to meet Morris Biggs, Jr a racist and misogynistic, debt collecting ex con and Hector, his Hispanic side kick Leon s unlicensed lender has just enlisted his collection agents to come and collect.We happen upon Bryce Bott an opportunistic chancer and grifter selling the recently bereaved a conduit to their dear departed, in tandem with his sick note partner, Waneta Bryce s previous scams may not match the potential his current scheme offers, though Waneta does seem to be acting rather strangely.Added to the mix is the sexy temptress, Billy Swett the head turning, third wife of the fabulously wealthy Big Lonnie Swett.Billy keeps bumping into our central protagonist Jim, seemingly at every turn Jim not immune to the charms of the lovely lady is surprised to meet her at Bott s Billy s been contributing to Bott s wallet in return for messages from the other side, regarding something troubling her from her past Whereas Jim, slightly less believing in Bott s spirit world connections is trying to recover some funds the witless Leon has palmed over, in the belief his recently deceased mother can offer him some guidance on how to escape the clutches of the neanderthal, Junior Biggs When our grifter, debt collectors, uncle and nephew collide Bott hatches a plan on the hoof to kidnap, Billy and relieve Big Lonnie of some of his fortune to everyone s mutual advantage Jim, stalling for time and with limited options reluctantly goes along with it, shrewd enough to understand that Biggs won t be willing to settle for a share of the 5 million when he has to tools and inclination to eliminate his accomplices for a bigger share of the pie Big Lonnie s unwillingness to part with his cash in return for Billy without further enquiries introduces another dynamic to the mix Cheetah McReedy an ex cop turned investigator With Cheetah closing in on the kidnap gang and Junior Biggs running light on patience, we reach a climax just as a hurricane strikes Overall verdict really enjoyable Perhaps feelings of nostalgia cloud my judgement, as I scored it slightly lower than the much loved debut, Michigan Roll It s been one of the highlights of my year seeing Tom Kakonis back in print after all this time.4 from 5Many thanks to Lee at Brash for an ARC of this Brash are in the process of republishing all of Tom s previous books, including a couple previously published under the pseudonym of Adam Barrow Several are available now, withto come in February 2015 More details on their website s a couple of blog posts by Tom on the Brash site Creating Waverley and The Story Behind Treasure Coast River Life Magazine have a review and interview with Tom here.http kingsriverlife.com 09 06 treasCan you tell I m a fan


  10. Hobart Hobart says:

    Really don t like writing these kind of reviews So let s get this out of the way straight off this was not a book written for me Which doesn t mean I couldn t appreciate it s strengths and it certainly could ve won me over others I didn t think were for me have , but it really didn t I certainly disliked it less by the end then I did at the beginning.This is a book that s very much a tale of two halves In the first half we get introduced to several characters, all of whom with one poss Really don t like writing these kind of reviews So let s get this out of the way straight off this was not a book written for me Which doesn t mean I couldn t appreciate it s strengths and it certainly could ve won me over others I didn t think were for me have , but it really didn t I certainly disliked it less by the end then I did at the beginning.This is a book that s very much a tale of two halves In the first half we get introduced to several characters, all of whom with one possible exception are very unsympathetic, and there s really only one of which I had any hope of becoming a tolerable character by the end of the book It was a slog to get through, and I really had to force myself It was a large number of ugly people doing ugly things to other ugly people But aside from one excessive beating, the ugly things were pretty small and all just to establish character and lack thereof It s just about 150 pages of setup.The second half contained most of these characters, though three of them vanished for all intents and purposes but it moved faster there was a point to the action, for that matter, there was action Where the first half could be seen as potential energy, the second half was all kinetic Sometimes that kind of book can work well but you run a risk in putting all your eggs in the second half It s too easy to just walk away unless that hook is set well at the beginning And Kakonis didn t really accomplish that The characters start interacting, the storylines overlap and intertwine And all the best laid schemes o mice an men get busy fulfilling Gang aft agley An lea e us nought but grief an pain, For promis d joy While the first half was all set up it set up a handful of characters and associated storylines that are just abandoned in the second I didn t understand that Why spend extra time putting up dominoes that you don t intend to knock over Ignoring the story problems, the language the novel was told in was deplorable Orwell said, Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent, Twain put itsuccinctly, Don t use a five dollar word when a fifty cent word will do If they d read Kakonis, Orwell would ve included obscure slang thankfully, with maybe one or two minor exceptions were decipherable with context clues, but I had a hard time believing that most of these characters would have so large and varied a vocabulary But beyond the general slang, was the vulgarity and ugly racism I learned at least one new derogatory epithet for the police, a couple for females female genitalia, and was reminded of a couple for Hispanics Sure, I understand, that these characters were by and large uneducated, lower class, and criminals not the type that you re supposed to want to emulate in word choice But this was just horrible, wretched A real block to my enjoying even tolerating huge passages from the book It seems to me that Kakonis was inspired by El Leonard in the structure, tone and subject for this book And Leonard wasn t afraid to have racial sexual epithets come out of his characters But for him, it worked, they never came across as vile, just human.So, yeah Not for me but I can see where some people might enjoy it If the product description appeals to you, give it a shot Hopefully it works better for you than it did for me