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QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD: A NOVEL

GAIL GODWIN

Contemporary Fiction
January 2007

Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780345483195

Emma Gant has a huge appetite for life! She's just graduated from college and landed a coveted job as a reporter at the Miami Star newspaper. Anxious to escape having to return to her stepfather's physical and sexual abuse, she's put plenty of energy into getting as far away from him as she can, albeit regretting the whole situation for her mother whom she dearly loves.

But enthusiasm hardly prepares Emma for what she will meet in steaming, multicultural Miami. Yes, she's got an older lover there already but she's still unprepared for the cutthroat competition she will meet in the journalistic world. Starting out writing miniscule obit and hospital reports, she manages in the two weeks in which this novel takes place to discover the secrets behind the Miami Mafia, Cuban exiles shipping illegal arms as dental equipment back to Cuba during the time of Fidel Castro's rise to power, and the sad story behind an ex-Madam of a whorehouse.

Although much that happens in the space of these two weeks, it's all pretty much covered on the surface without much development. But one must place one's self within the context of a woman working a new job in the man's world of the 1960s. Keeping that in mind, Emma's propulsion into all of this worldly activity certainly makes sense and makes for interesting reading. She's a gutsy character who rises from her losses prepared to tackle whatever challenges come her way. The only thing that doesn't make much sense is her falling for an older guy, given her negative background with her stepfather.

Given the rapidly changing world of the 60's generation, though, Emma Gant (catch the literary parallels with Jane Austin and Thomas Wolfe's characters) certainly gets an education about rich Cuban exiles now floating in memories and little else, the "Lucifer-like" world of journalism, but most of all dreaming big no matter what the world tosses one's way

Interesting story that has plenty of zip in spots!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on March 18, 2007

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