on Aug. 19, 2013 :
Eddie Clay III’s new novel is a surprise in every sense of the word. The ex-marine is trying his luck with an unexpected genre: romance. Who would have thought? The Seduction of Monet Dawson is a love story based on true events, set in California in the early 1990’s, and narrated by the author’s alter ego Gunnery Sergeant Thompson in a first person point of view.
After returning from a year-long assignment in Okinawa, Japan, Gunny Thompson, who has full custody of his six year old son, settles in his condo near Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. He embraces life in the US. He is determined to make a home for his son and move on from a dead-end relationship he is in with a woman named Kay. The first five chapters lead up to and ultimately describe the most bizarre break-up story I have ever heard. Readers, brace yourselves. The author might have had doubts about the credibility of this incident also, because he provided official documents to prove the old truth: real life events can be much more far-fetched than the most intricate fiction. During this introductory interlude, Gunny Thompson meets the girl of his dreams. This is where the main story-line begins. It’s hard to summarize the plot without spoiling the story, so let me just say that it involves hypnosis, fire-eating, deep-core ethical decisions, mild sex, a benevolent neighbor (who would want to live without that?), and an astonishing twist at the end.
Eddie Clay III wrote this novel in eight weeks, which is a great accomplishment. However, I think the book would benefit from further structural editing. The title is a bit misleading: the story is not relayed through the confessions of a military wife, and the plot is not exclusively about the seduction of anybody. The three distinct sections of the novel (first five chapters, main plot, and last four chapters) are only loosely related, and although the dialogue flows naturally, some of it is redundant (see conversation about coupons at the check-out counter on page 36). The tone is somewhat uneven, also. Occasionally, it is hard to decide if this is a drama or comedy, even though towards the second half of the novel the author’s voice seems to mature, especially during the last segment.
Nevertheless, the book is an entertaining, easy read, and it provides plenty of issues and topics to ponder or laugh about. It is a “must read” for those of us who became Eddie Clay fans after reading his Mogadishu Diaries.
For The Harrington Review
August 9, 2013
(reviewed the day of purchase)