Monday 24 April 2017

Review: Fiction: 4am In Las Vegas by Michelle Jackson

Poolbeg, €15.99

With so much chicklit out there, having a unique selling point is vital. Over the past few years Michelle Jackson has carved out her own niche in the crowded romantic fiction genre by combining a love of travel with an ability to tell a good yarn.

And it works. Her first novel, Two Days In Biarritz, was light but edgy, describing a pivotal trip abroad that changed the lives of her Irish protagonists. It quickly became a bestseller.

Jackson's formula was so successful that she used it in subsequent novels with more distant locations and she soon came to the attention of foreign publishers. Her books Three Nights In New York and One Kiss In Havana, along with Two Days In Biarritz are available in Dutch, German, Portuguese and Norwegian, continuing the playful numerical theme and reference to a city in the titles.

The new one, her fourth book, involves several couples and a trail of lies and deceit which come to a head at 4am in Las Vegas. Over-protective Irish mammies come in for a bit of stick too and drive the story.

Jackson is from Howth, Co Dublin, and very often her characters are too, in this case Vicky and Frank who are in Vegas for their Cophetuan wedding, both with very different expectations.

The other protagonist, Suzanne, is nursing her mother through Alzheimer's at home in Clontarf. She goes to Vegas to meet childhood sweetheart Ronan, with friend Eddie, who has his own motives, involving his reluctant boyfriend from Dublin who is also visiting Vegas.

Suzanne and Ronan revive their love on a romantic trip down the Grand Canyon but old wounds are re-opened and sparks fly when all the protagonists meet up and realise how their lives overlap. Relationships sour and Jackson ratchets up the tension.

There are a lot of dark secrets going on; in fact the whole book is darker and more ambitious than Jackson's previous titles, with quite a few surprises near the end. As usual, Jackson's vivid descriptions bring a location to life, whether it's the vastness of the Mojave Desert landscape or the blazing buzz of Vegas. Novel number four doesn't disappoint.

Ann Dunne

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