The Garden of Eden
Young state policeman Sam Neely has been assigned to the tiny village of Eden (population: 47) where he fears he will go mad with boredom. But he never gets that opportunity, because things start happening immediately.
Eden banker Ed Harris arrives home unexpectedly to find his best friend, Hayden Elkins, in bed with Ed's wife, Anne. With a gun pointed at them, Ed orders Anne to pack her belongings. Anne, he announces, will now live with Hayden, who will treat her as a wife. When Hayden reminds Ed that he already has a wife, Ed replies that now he has two. Ed orders Hayden to make Anne happy. And so the couple head home to Hayden's wife, Matilda, who faints when she hears the news.
The town is abuzz with the news of Hayden and his two wives. Some of the more upright women approach Trooper Neely to swear out a complaint of bigamy against Hayden, and a complaint of felony menacing against gun-toting Ed. Neely must investigate. When Neely interviews Anne, she blithely divulges how she and Matilda plan to divide their wifely duties, with Matilda doing the housework, Anne washing the windows, and so on.
That is just the beginning of the happenings in Eden, the young policeman discovers. There's gorgeous Crystal Ice, with whom Neely falls madly in love. There's also a young retarded Peeping Tom, a wealthy author who has escaped from city life, and a deputy sheriff who has quite the photo collection. And then there's the comely woman preacher, who has an amazing secret.
As one might expect from the author's name, the book is written under a pseudonym, which drove me into a frenzy of deciding on the identity of the writer. After some research, I discovered I was way off on my guess of the author ("Eve Adams" is the pseudonym for bestselling thriller writer Stephen Coonts --- who would have guessed??) The book reminds me very much of the Mitford series by Jan Karon, although THE GARDEN OF EDEN is a bit racier. Like the Mitford stories, the characters' lives fit together in a pleasing manner, which is very satisfying and uplifting. Besides the interesting characters, a decidedly Southern backdrop, plenty of understated humor, and a lively pace make this a pleasurable read.
I have one small quibble: all the women of note are extraordinarily gorgeous goddesses. Descriptions of these beauteous lasses wore thin rapidly, and made the characters seem less real. Despite this minor drawback, I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon(Terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 22, 2011