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Authors: Tom Corcoran

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BOOK: The Mango Opera
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“Maybe that’s where she got the idea you could afford counseling.”

Liska finally chuckled. He flung the airplane and it flew through his door, out of sight down the hallway.

“It’s going to change your life dramatically,” I said.

Liska went in for a third sheet of paper. “Working and campaigning at the same time?”

“You’ll be up against Tucker’s clout. People are always scared to buck an incumbent. They know the guy could win and whip out retaliations. Plus, if you lose, you’ll be unemployed.”

“You’ll be there right with me.” His phone rang. He grabbed the receiver. He was right, either way. If I campaigned on Liska’s behalf, I could lose my crime-scene gigs at the county. If I didn’t help him, I’d probably lose my city job anyway. Politics in the Keys resembled minimal-rules games with sudden-death overtimes. Outside his office window the torn fronds of a tall palm fluttered. I imagined dollar bills blowing away through the trees.

Liska grunted and looked disgusted. “Incoming emergency call and the doofus puts me on hold.” My face must have broadcast concern. He looked downward to create a perfect bisecting fold. “I meant what I said, bubba.”

“I heard you twice the first time. You really think you can win?”

“Only one way to find out.” He perked up, pressed the receiver tighter against his ear, then hung up. “Mother of Christ. Next thing, the Southernmost Point’ll fall into the ocean. Get this. The Conch Train pulls out of the fuckin’ depot and a guy keels into the intersection, Front and Duval, dead as your chair. Some guy not dressed like a tourist. Officer on the scene says fatal stab wound.”

The Conch Tour Trains—re-modeled Jeeps towing strings of trailers made to look like passenger-train cars—carried tourists throughout the island.

I said, “Was the victim wearing a watch?”

“What the fuck kind of question is that?” Liska crumpled his unfinished airplane and chucked it into the trash can. “You beg for bones, bubba, I just put you to work. Go home and get a camera.”

“What about Cootie Ortega?” The city’s full-time crime photographer had earned a broad reputation for blowing assignments. As the mayor’s wife’s first cousin, however, he could claim solid job security.

“Cootie’s got the flu.”

“I saw him downstairs when I came in the building.”

“Cootie doesn’t know he’s got the flu.”

“I’m on my bicycle.”

Liska hit the intercom. He asked Teresa Barga, the police department’s new media liaison director, to take me home for my cameras. He then asked her to deliver me and herself to the Conch Train Depot as fast as she could move it.



“Not since McGuane’s 92 IN THE SHADE has Key West been rendered so vividly and with such spare poetry. Tom Corcoran is the real thing—a novelist with a mature voice, a powerful vision and a great ear for the rhythms of human speech. This is a smart, exciting novel, one not to be missed.”

—James W. Hall, author of
Body Language

“The genius of imagination and the genius of realism don’t often take up housekeeping in one writer’s skull. But Tom Corcoran has combined a viciously creative plot with a perfect description of Key West as it really is, and the result is good to the bone.”

—P.J. O’Rourke, author of
Holidays in Hell, Parliament of Whores,
Give War a Chance

“Key West is crazy, dangerous, hilarious, and exotic. Tom Corcoran’s THE MANGO OPERA captures all of this with right-on characters and escalating suspense. A true mystery and a great read.”

—Winston Groom, author of
Forrest Gump

“Tom Corcoran knows the foul reaches of Key West and so do I. This (M.O.) is an evil book about an evil place. Don’t read this book if you have a tendency to wonder where your daughter is on long rainy nights.”

—Hunter S. Thompson, author of
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

“THE MANGO OPERA is a very engrossing novel. Corcoran deftly evokes the spirit and physicality of the place, the low tide jubilance and enlivening fetor of its pleasures and instinctive criminality, as if the sun and ocean had blasted all the flowers of evil into its very genes.”

—Jim Harrison, author of
Legends of the Fall

“Fast-moving and brightly written, this is a first novel that demands a second.”

Dallas Morning News

“First time author Tom Corcoran’s MANGO OPERA is a full focus delight.… You’re hooked from page one.… Intricate plotting, memorable characters and a solid and honest feel for his terrain put the author picture-perfect right out of the starting gate.”

(Jackson, MS)

“THE MANGO OPERA, with its tropical setting, fruity characters and hard-boiled dialogue, is a delicious treat.”

The St. Petersburg Times

“With its sure feel for the Key West that resides beneath the tourist façade and a quirky, hard-edged rhythm pulsing beneath the surface calm, this debut deserves a wide and welcoming audience.”

Publishers Weekly

“THE MANGO OPERA leapfrogs over many first-time novels and puts Corcoran solidly in the company of the likes of Lawrence Shames and Robert Crais. In both plot and dialogue Corcoran shows a deft hand … Readers will shout a resounding ‘bravo!’ at the end of THE MANGO OPERA. Tom Corcoran is off to a very fast start on what is sure to be a long career as a fine mystery novelist.”




Copyright © 1998 by Tom Corcoran.

Excerpt from
Gumbo Limbo
copyright © 1999 by Tom Corcoran.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 98-4808

ISBN: 0-312-96988-0

EAN: 80312-96988-2

St. Martin’s Press hardcover edition / June 1998

St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / September 1999

St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

eISBN 9781466861992

First eBook edition: December 2013

BOOK: The Mango Opera
10.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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