A classic novel by John D. MacDonald with an exclusive introduction written and read by Dean Koontz. Welcome to Golden Sands, the dream condominium built on a weak foundation and a thousand dirty secrets. Here is a panoramic look at the shocking facts of life in a Sun Belt community - the real estate swindles and political payoffs, the maintenance charges that run up and the health benefits that run out... the crackups and marital breakdowns... the disaster that awaits those who play in the path of the hurricane...
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I probably should not have bought this. John wrote a short story called SPECTATOR SPORT, that I liked a lot. It was featured in The OMINBUS OF SCIENCE FICTION, written way back in the 50's. This went on sale, so I gave it a shot. His writing is skillful, but the subject matter just did not intrigue me, especially for the length of time I would have had to invest. The book is about, what goes on behind building and maintaining a Condominium. the corporation is the bad guy, who does not care about the people living in their building, many on a fixed income. We also follow the renters who have signed long term contracts. It goes into great detail and the whole book has a sixties feel to it. The guy in the introduction, admits it is not one of John's best writings, which seemed like a strange intro, to me.
In his introduction to Audible's edition of this book, Dean Koontz says that many people consider it a masterpiece, but it isn't. That's not the kind of thing you usually read in an invited introduction, but after listening, I'd say it's true.
Condominium is sprawling, fascinating in spots and boring in others, full of cliches but also full of characters--especially the elderly couples who have bought into the "golden years on golden sands" spiel of the real estate developers--who are often poignantly, even heartbreakingly, real. I'd say it's worth the time, if only for Hurricane Climax.
Condominium was written over several years and published in the late 70s. If you've seen the "who will survive?" disaster movies of that era--"Earthquake" or "Poseidon Adventure" or "Towering Inferno"-- you'll recognize the plot line. Also the Hollywood cliches--hunky loner hero, great-hearted, dying, elderly millionaire (today he'd have be a billionaire, but this was the 70's remember) married to beautiful, devoted young wife who fights her attraction to hero, slick amoral developer, greedy realtor, young investigative reporter, corrupt banker, check.
But supporting those characters are the well-drawn condo residents and a great deal of fact-based research by an author who, obviously distressed by the despoiling of Florida, wanted to sound an alarm. John D. MacDonald, like Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen, loved the natural beauty of the peninsula's fragile ecosystems and was angry and heartbroken as he watched the race to extract as much as possible, take the money and run, and damn the consequences.
I like Richard Ferrone's performances in general, but he can be a little monotonous, and it is a bit hard to keep some of the characters straight. About halfway through listening I began to get the dramatic personae straightened out, and it was about that time the hurricane made her first appearance. After overly numbing detail about construction, real estate investment banking, condominium owner association legalities, fishing, and oceanic geology, the meteorological facts were actually interesting, especially coming out of an era long predating satellite tracking and The Weather Channel.The last one-third of the book is spellbinding.
Not a masterpiece. But maybe worth the designation "classic."