Brett is a successful novelist. Paul, her husband, is a hotel developer. The two of them are what you would call a success. But Brett has a past – she was an alcoholic. Enter Edouard, a banker friend of her hubby’s and before you know it, a massive affair is on the cards and Brett is slipping and sliding back into all kinds of bad habits. Love in Central America, then, is a dark, sexy confection that you can read in a single afternoon but like all such masturbatory extravagances, it’s likely you’ll feel a measure of shame afterwards (you chose to read this, after all, rather than – something else).
You imagine Clancy Martin looking at EL James’ sales figures and saying, if all those people bought that book when it’s written as badly as it is, imagine how many sales you would get from something sexy written well. Because Martin can write well and for the most part Love in Central America reads like Bret Easton Ellis-lite (to which of course the haters will no doubt say “Bret Easton Ellis-lite? Is that even possible? Wouldn’t that be like slimline diet no sugar quality?” Shut up haters).
But there are also portions of the book that it’s impossible to read without rolling your eyes. Such as:
“I didn’t say you could fuck me,” I said. “You shouldn’t be doing it like this.”
He said, “You’re right,” and raped me in the ass.
There are also a handful of typos (p87, p90, p111) that bespeak an editorial sloppiness and that detracts from the book too.
It’s a melodrama, then, a distraction, a story you’ve probably heard a hundred times delivered with enough aplomb to just about carry the day.
A note at the back of the book – in which Martin thanks the person who suggested he turn the book from a memoir into a novel – leaves you wondering which parts are true and who the memoir would have been about (his parents, maybe?); and this means you exit the book wondering about the knot of truth and fiction, which is somewhat beguiling. Arguably more beguiling than the actual climax of the book itself.
Any Cop?: The kind of book you can imagine beautiful people reading on a beach somewhere hot, the memory of which will fade as surely as tanned skin.