Barrier Island

Barrier Island

Rating

7.5

The Pequod Review:

John D. MacDonald's final novel (published in June 1986, just six months before his death) once again explores themes of ecological destruction, as a Gulf Coast scam artist uses a fictitious land development project to try to obtain a large settlement from the US Park Service. This works to excellent effect since it gives otherwise straightforward scenes added richness and atmosphere:

Wade Rowley finally found the Feeney place in the late afternoon on Wednesday, the twenty-third of July. It was west of the city beyond the solid waste dump which drained toxic wastes down into the broad salt marsh, and was the object of endless meetings, resolutions and demands, none of which changed the fact that there was no other sanitary landfill site available at the present time.

The dirt road turned right off Lamarr, and the heavy rains of Sunday night and Monday had scoured the dust and left puddles in the ruts. In the heat of late afternoon he could smell the murky acid of the dump and hear the bulldozers grunting and shoving.

MacDonald's story starts a bit slow and the characters' actions don't always make a lot of sense, but it's quite well-written and it has a noirish all-business plot that make this a more than worthy conclusion to an extraordinary career.