About the book, Watermelon Tattoo
- Genre: Psychological Thriller / Suspense
- Publisher: Watertower Press
- Date of Publication: February 14, 2023
- Number of Pages: 300 pages
- Scroll down for Giveaway!
Naïve but charismatic farm girl, Jacquelyn Benderman, has her life perfectly planned until her town blames her for the accidental death of the local high school’s star running back. Feeling like a pariah, she flees to Austin, Texas where her luck seems to change. Her rapid rise to stardom as a blues diva is derailed when an anonymous stalker begins systematically murdering her associates, leaving the police to suspect her.
As Y2K approaches, she wrestles with the guilt of falling for her roommate, a Romanian folk singer who survives as a call-girl, while the show band she sings with rehearses for a national tour.
Can she protect her new lover from danger? Will the world end at midnight? Is there no hiding place when everyone knows who you are?
Praise for this book:
“Burnett has created an unconventional and magnetic character who makes a memorable first impression.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Bodies, wrecked and loved, Wiccan handfasting, sex work, guns, watermelons, and music—lots of music—light up this thrilling nail-biter.” –Lesley Bannatyne, author of Unaccustomed
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About the author, Tony Burnett
Award-winning poet and songwriter Tony Burnett is the Executive Director of Kallisto Gaia Press. He served as President of the Writers’ League of Texas from 2013 to 2017. His poetry, short fiction, and environmentally focused nonfiction appear in over 70 publications. His previous books include the story collection, Southern Gentlemen and a full-length poetry collection, The Reckless Hope of Scoundrels. He resides in rural central Texas with his trophy wife and several rescue dogs who pay him no mind unless hungry. His hobbies include poking wasp nests with short sticks and wandering aimlessly about. He hopes you enjoy meeting his imaginary friends.
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Watermelon Tattoo, the new novel from award winning poet and songwriter Tony Burnett, is probably the most intense book I’ve read this year. It’s gritty. It’s earthy. It’s sex-positive and some of the humor is scatological. It’s set against Y2K so there’s no texting culture. It’s also poignant and engaging, and at times it’s even heart-warming. It’s the kind of novel only a musician could write, because it takes many seemingly discordant notes and combines them into a distinctly American – distinctly Texan – symphony.
This novel gives us a dynamo of a lead character in Jaqui Benderman. She’s the only daughter of a widower who is renowned for the Black Diamond watermelons he grows, and while she wants to be a dutiful daughter, she also wants to live her own dreams of being a singer, and I love that she took ownership of those dreams early in the story. Yes, there are times when she’s still a bit of a lost little girl, but she always has her vision.
Her childhood friend Langley provides the countermelody in the story, adding another perspective but never taking over the lead. He’s important to the plot and important to Jaqui and her growth as a person and an artist, but he’s definitely a supporting player, not the lead.
Then there’s Sarge – Jaqui’s father. He drinks too much and is still mourning her long-dead mother, but his heart is in the right place. When Jaqui eventually introduces him to her Romany girlfriend, Katrine, his acceptance of their relationship is beautifully written, resoundingly real, and a model for the way every parent should be when their child finds love.
While there is a mystery (albeit not a terribly cryptic one) that runs through Watermelon Tattoo, of “who wants Jaqui dead,” the real draw – for me, at least – is just following Jaqui’s journey and seeing the behind-the-scenes parts of the Austin music industry. Even though Jaqui prefers torch songs (same, girl, same) to head-banging metal, this story has a strong sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll vibe.
If you haven’t grasped that this novel is absolutely meant for adults, let me make it plain that it is. There is a lot of alcohol use, both recreationally and as a form of self-medication for both Jaqui and her father. There is drug use. There is a lot of sex (m/f and f/f). Another author may not have handled this much material so deftly, but Burnett has a coherent vision, and has composed a story that is so well-grounded in emotional truth that this ride, while wild, is worth every breathless second.
Goes well with: tequila-soaked watermelon cubes served with mint and lime.
Signed copy of Watermelon Tattoo
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 6/9/23)
Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour
Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for Watermelon Tattoo, for links to each blog, updated daily, or visit each blog directly:
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|05/30/23||Hall Ways Blog||Spotlight|
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|06/02/23||The Real World According to Sam||Review|
|06/04/23||The Book’s Delight||Spotlight|
|06/06/23||Chapter Break Book Blog||Spotlight|
|06/07/23||The Plain-Spoken Pen||Review|
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