The next time I stay in a hotel all of my belongings -- even the toothpaste -- will have a really loud alarm attached to them!!
Why? Because a character named Morgan in Based Upon Availability has STICKY FINGERS!
Upon first glance, I thought this was going to be a light read. Look at that cover. It's fairly light and cheerful with those flowers on it. But those windows are closed, hiding what's inside -- a dark and humorous novel by Alix Strauss.
Four Seasons hotel manager Morgan has long been haunted by the death of her sister Dale. She never got the chance to say goodbye. Fearing she was too young, Morgan's parents did not allow her to attend Dale's funeral. Ever since, Morgan has been searching for the human connection that she lost. Long looks at Dale's photos and reminiscing about the sound of her voice and her smell aren't enough. She makes excuses to see gallery owner Trish. A friendship with Trish allows Morgan to imagine how life with Dale could have been. Giggles and gossip over lunch, the anticipation of a wedding and maybe having a niece or a nephew. But it's just a fantasy.
When friendship isn't enough, Morgan goes on "room checks" to relieve hotel guests of their property. They won't notice small things missing? Who is going to miss a pill or two? But one of her larger thefts, a sex toy, I have a hard time believing that wouldn't be missed!!
Along the way we meet other women who are searching for that same human connection. A washed up rock star Louise A.KA. Lou who comes to the Four Seasons to dry out. Trish is obsessed with her weight and speaks of herself in the third person. Ellen badly wants a child to save her marriage, no matter the consequences. Anne desperately wants to be free of OCD. Robin's sister, Vicki, unlike Dale is alive but their relationship is dead, leading Robin to do something strange and funny! I won't say what, but it involves handcuffs and Kahlua!
The ties that bind them all are Morgan and the Four Seasons hotel. The story is told from several points of view. Sometimes that's a problem for me. It can be hard to keep each character straight, if the point of view shifts within the same chapter. But that isn't the case here. We hear from each woman individually. All of them can see their own flaws, but others can't. Strauss' writing is smart and often unpredictable. This is the first book I've read where a character feels empowered by a sex toy, I just wasn't expecting to read that. I've never been to the Four Seasons (not in my budget), but Alix Strauss weaves together an often sympathetic, funny and dark portrait of what could be going on there.
Notes: I received a copy of the novel from the publisher at the request of the author. For more information on Alix Strauss, visit: http://www.alixstrauss.com/