Weirdly, this is almost exactly the same novel, with a less fraught tension and it takes places in Mexico, and the Americans are less invasive, as Teeth of the Dog. I swear I didn’t do this on purpose. Here’s that review again, but some of the ideas are different. But almost the same:
“This book has some blurbs on it that might speak to its influences, but not to its successes. We meet a couple [in Mexico], an island divided into three very different principalities. The couple arrives and immediately becomes embroiled in some amount of local intrigue, but more so become the targets of a wayward American who eventually the wife in the couple sleeps with. In theory this would create a kind of love triangle, but in practice, because the wife is significantly older than the much frailer husband, this is a more complex relationship, or at least a much less, immediately disastrous one. The resulting tension comes from the young American’s increasing sense of entitlement to the wife’s affections and attentions.
But, because this is a more literary endeavor than a thriller one, those tensions tend to be more understated, less than liminal, and more fraught as we go forward, and because this is a literary novel and not a thriller, the inevitable fallout happens in much more recognizable ways. I don’t ultimately think this novel is as successful as those influences listed on the front, which include Graham Green and Paul Bowles primarily. I also don’t know why this novel….exists? I am not sure there are obvious questions about American couples’ roles in island countries as presented here that make for a novel that speaks to its own existence here, especially in 1998?
So I am let down and perplexed ultimately by this one.”