MELISSA BLOCK, host:
All summer, we've been running a series called Three Books. We ask writers to recommend a group of books on a single theme. Today, our recommendations come from an ALL THINGS CONSIDERED listener in Wilmington, Delaware.
Mary Kennedy wrote to us a couple of months ago to suggest three books set in Miami's South Beach.
MARY KENNEDY: If Paris is a movable feast, South Beach is an all-night party. I know exactly when I caught South Beach fever. It was 1984, and Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas were starring in a new TV show called "Miami Vice." I was hooked.
Flash forward to the present day. Writers love South Beach because the milieu was hip, edgy, filled with possibilities for compelling plots and outrageous characters. Mix one part Art Deco, one part Cubanita culture, one part surreal fantasy - and you've got a book.
Barbara Parker, former Miami prosecutor and best-selling novelist, has just released another sizzling thriller set in South Beach. In "The Dark of Day," her protagonist, high-profile defense attorney C.J. Dunn, mingles with society mavens, porn kings, dirty politicians and television honchos. Almost every scene is filled with the flavor of South Beach, from the glitzy hotels on Collins Avenue to the trendy boutiques on Lincoln Road.
Caridad Pineiro, a Manhattan attorney and author who was born in Havana, is enchanted by South Beach. Her novels are as wild and sexy as mojitos. "South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man" is the story of four female friends, all smart, sexy professional women who love their jobs, adore their men and put their families first. The dialogue is crisp, edgy, filled with Spanish phrases, and the chicas are irresistible. Think "Sex in the City" with a Latina flair.
If you like characters with a dangerous edge, Brian Antoni's book "South Beach: The Novel" fits the bill. Characters change, morph, re-invent themselves, because in South Beach, anything is possible. The main character, 29-year-old Gabriel Tucker, is thrust into the strange and wonderful world of South Beach when his uncle leaves him an apartment building in the historic district. Tucker quickly finds himself caught up in the lives and loves of a bizarre cast of characters who live in the building. The reader is dazzled by the decadent atmosphere and wonders: Will Tucker save the apartment building from the wrecking ball? Antoni's book captures South Beach in the heady days of the '80s, when it was called a sunny place for shady people.
South Beach is just as tantalizing today as it was in the days of "Miami Vice." Pick up a South Beach novel, grab a mojito and immerse yourself in a little fantasy as you catch some rays. Perfecto.
BLOCK: Mary Kennedy writes young adult novels. She says she's traveled to South Beach over 50 times in the last 20 years. Her recommendations for your series Three Books are "The Dark of Day" by Barbara Parker, "South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man" by Caridad Pineiro and "South Beach: The Novel" by Brian Antoni. You can find other Three Books recommendations at npr.org.
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