Ring of Fire
By Bill Cokas
Summary: Seeking refuge from a corporate scandal, Wally Gibbs trades his corner office in Chicago for a tweed jacket with elbow patches in a quaint college town. He soon realizes he wasn’t meant to teach marketing; he was meant to reinvent it. And the timing is right. To Wally’s perverse delight, the economy has brought consumers everywhere to their knees. In Wally’s own words, “people are so desperate to lop thirty cents off a cantaloupe, they’d give a urine sample at the checkout.” During a routine colonoscopy, he envisions a new hyper-efficient marketing vehicle, which he labels “Project Argus.”
As Wally ensnares his unsuspecting students in the beta test, Project Argus catches the attention of eight-fingered frustrated campus policeman Nick Pappas. Sensing a connection to an unsolved student death, Nick becomes obsessed with exposing the scheme, even “deputizing” student cartoonist Zak Dawson to do the digging he can’t. The pair follows Wally to a tiny Greek island, where he acquires a rare exotic gem that he smuggles back home and turns over to a local jeweler. Within a few days, the hottest-selling graduation ring in the school’s history is quietly collecting data—and claiming lives.
Ring of Fire is a quirky suspense full of wry social satire, combining offbeat characters, a contemporary twisted plot and a setting that’s equal parts academia and Aegean Sea. Those who appreciate the offbeat characters and unconventional plots of Carl Hiaasen, Marshall Karp and Bill Fitzhugh should thoroughly enjoy Ring of Fire.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed this book a lot. This sort of humorous mystery is not my typical genre and I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book in this category before. I’ve never read a Carl Hiaasen novel. That being said, I am glad I gave this book a shot because it was thoroughly entertaining.
This book was quirky and comical, while also being thrilling and suspenseful, which is a tough combination to make. I’ve always thought it’s much easier to be serious and dark than it is to be light and funny, so to add a bit of humor into a suspenseful novel shows a lot of talent. I thought this book was well written and interesting and I connected with a lot of the characters. Nick Pappas, the campus police officer, was my favorite character and I was happy to see how much he grew throughout the book.
I’m not sure that the plot is all that plausible, but it really wasn’t something I thought about while reading. I felt the author explained the plot well and let me believe, while reading, that this is happening. It wasn’t until after finishing and checking out some other reviews that I really started wondering how plausible it was, so I definitely don’t fault the book or the author. I thought the entire premise was interesting and executed in such a way that I was along for the ride.
Because I’ve never read a book in this genre, I’m curious to see how close it comes to others. Cokas has been compared to Carl Hiaasen in his writing style, so I’d like to read something by Hiaasen to see if that comparison is true. Either way, I enjoyed the story a lot and found it completely enjoyable and entertaining, while also being suspenseful and thought provoking. I will definitely check out other books by the author.