‘The Lust Lizard Of Melancholy Cove’ fits into the pigeon hole labelled ‘comic fantasy’, although there are only two fantasy elements. Steve the dragon and Mavis Sand the aged and possibly bionic barmaid of the Head of the Slug Saloon. The rest of the setting down in Pine Cove is what you would expect for a sleepy holiday town on the west coast of the USA. Even the fact that the local town constable, Theophilus Crowe, has been stoned for years isn’t pushing the boundaries of credibility too far. Theophilus or Theo as he is known is the lead character in the story, although he has a rich array of supporting characters.
Although chapter one starts with Theo being called to a suicide, things only start to get interesting when Steve the dragon turns up. The dragon’s real name is unknown but he is given the name ‘Steve’ by Molly Michon (aka Kendra, Warrior Babe of the Outland) the local mad lady and resident of the trailer park. Unfortunately, he perceives people as warm bloods which fit into the category called food. Steve or the possibility of a Steve only comes to Theo’s attention when people start going missing. News of the suicide deeply upsets the local psychiatrist Dr. Valerie Riordean as the deceased was one of her patients. She was also on anti-depressants as are the majority of the doctor’s patients, which contribute a good sizable proportion of Pine Cove.
The need to eat is not Steve’s prime motivation for venturing onto dry land, it’s the desire to find a mate. While he’s resting after bombing out on a date, Steve gets to meet Molly who in her younger days was indeed Kendra, Warrior Babe. She featured in a series of films that went straight to VHS which provides a hint to the quality of the material. Unfortunately, her stardom was cut short and she has had mental problems adjusting with the downturn in her career.
One of the features of Steve the dragon is his ability to induce euphoria in the people and animals nearby. It probably developed to make hunting easier as it’s much simpler if the intended lunch offers themselves up rather than running away. It’s hard to tell what effect the dragon is having as the mental landscape of Pine Cove becomes complicated when in a fit of guilt, Dr. Riordean switches all her patients to placebos. She strongly believes that her prescribing anti-depressants to a patient that didn’t need them was the cause of the poor woman’s untimely demise. Fearful that a large proportion of her patients may do the same, she makes the switch with some very interesting results.
‘The Lust Lizard Of Melancholy Cove’ is one of those books that are a nice light read. It’s not packed with gags and jokes, in fact they are rather few. They are however, very funny. There’s a nice plot with the sheriff and a very good array of eccentric but believable characters to make this an enjoyable read. I’m surprised nobody has made a TV programme out of it.
(pub: Orbit. 326 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-451-7)