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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The corporate culture combines with consumerism and ignorance to create a disaster. No this isn't about the sub prime mortgage crisis; it's about a coastal economy that depends on people buying land and building structures where they have no business building anything. No it's not about New Orleans and a hurricane called Katrina; it's Florida and a fictional hurricane named Ella. It's about the combination of a natural and a man made disaster and the unwillingness of people to see what's not in their best interest to see. Human nature changes slowly if at all and the manner in which people deal with issues such as self interest versus community interest; government vs. private business can be placed at the center of many types of stories. With a couple of exceptions it's a story that you can transpose easily to today. The exceptions are that weather prognostications are much more exact now and there are a lot of sources for weather now; there would be far fewer false alarms today than in 1973. The other difference that with new laws the builders would have already written new laws and regulations to exempt themselves from legal action and it wouldn't have taken illegal bribery today. Not when legal bribery is so much easier and safer to conduct. This is not the best of the non McGee books by the author but informative, instructive, entertaining and still a good listen more than forty years after it was written. Like most things written by John D I recommend this one.
- Me & My Girls "Delight in the journey and the struggle on the road to your dreams"
Disaster Movie Material with Heart and Substance
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."