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The Mango Opera Hardcover – June, 1998

3.9 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Key West has been a geographical muse for a gamut of writers from Wallace Stevens to Jimmy Buffett. Cast almost adrift, the last pearl on the string of islands that make up the end of America's East Coast, Key West endures in our imaginations as an expatriate paradise, a pirate hideaway, and a perpetual party. In his debut novel, The Mango Opera, Tom Corcoran does little to shatter these illusions. Indeed, he does quite a bit to fill out the uninitiated reader's understanding of the secretive and steamy history of Cayo Hueso.

Corcoran's hero, Alex Rutledge is a freelance photographer whose island life has taken a turn for the worse with the recent departure of his girlfriend, Annie Minnette. When he isn't shooting magazine glossies and menu food, Rutledge does a bit of forensic work for local law enforcement agencies. It's easy money until the morning he finds Annie's look-alike roommate posed for some gruesome portraits on the other side of his lens. Police begin to suspect a serial killer as the list of victims grows, and Rutledge suspects something more sinister when he realizes the list of victims reads like a page or two from his own little black book.

Like a tropical chef, Corcoran flavors The Mango Opera with colorful characters, crisp dialogue, island history, and quite a bit of dark but highly appropriate humor. He serves it all up in tasty bites that promise to satisfy almost any mystery lover.

From Publishers Weekly

Southern Florida keeps turning out mystery writers. Corcoran's colorful Key West debut shows that there's room for at least one more. Alex Rutledge, longtime Key West resident, earns a precarious living as a photographer whose work includes some crime-site picture taking for the police. Rutledge's laid-back routine is disrupted when estranged girlfriend Annie Minnette shows up with some hastily gathered belongings after her roommate has been found murdered. Rutledge's involvement becomes more direct when additional murders and attempted murders occurAall aimed at women who are part of his somewhat promiscuous past. Rutledge's familiarity with the victims seems to be at the center of a mystery as snarled as a mangrove clump. Untangling the twists proves dangerous and exacting as a parade of memorable characters send Rutledge on a trip down memory lane that includes flashbacks to the Cuban boatlift and dubious characters on both sides of the law. With its sure feel for the Key West that resides beneath the tourist facade and a quirky, hard-edged rhythm pulsing beneath the surface calm, this debut deserves a wide and welcoming audience.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Mango Opera (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (June 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312186282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312186289
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Corcoran is right up there with the best in the genre. The Mango Opera is a good mystery set in Key West with a little Miami thrown in and one good trip to Georgia. While the character development can be confusing - as none are well developed except Alex Rutledge - half the fun is created by your not knowing who is a good guy and who is a bad guy. The string of suspects is as long as some of the bridges connecting the Keys to the South Florida peninsula.
Alex Rutledge is our hero, and, like most of his buddies, is a true native to the Key West - a "bubba", all of whose lives are intricately woven in and out of each other's. There are dark secrets, grudges and camaraderie all in one friendship. When Alex's ex-lovers start turning up dead it is hard to believe that it isn't personal.
The story will have you guessing until the bitter end. This is a quick, witty, wonderfully colorful, south Florida tale packed with a punch.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Looking for a book for the plane ride home, I found Mango Opera on the last day of a recent stay in Key West. It hooks you early, moves fast, and it's difficult to put down.
Tom Corcoran does a great job of capturing the offbeat flavor of Key West and the people who live there. If you don't know Key West it's a great read, if you do then Corcoran's descriptions will make you feel as if you're back there again. It's a great book with some unique twists and turns where the characters act like real people. I'm looking forward to his next book.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're a Jimmy Buffett fan and like whodunnits, you're about to become a Tom Corcoran fan. This debut novel by the long time Key Wester and Buffett pal instantly transports the reader "down island", leading them through the streets and alleyways of Old Town.
Like the unlikely heroes of Carl Hiaasen, freelance photographer Alex Rutledge finds himself embroiled in murder and mystery as several former girlfriends are found dead in gruesome circumstances.
Corcoran skillfully leads the reader through a plot that twists and turns as often as the Florida weather changes. As the hero becomes the suspect, he also becomes detective as he tries to cope with the deaths of his former lovers and how to warn those who are still alive that someone may be after them.
An engrossing tale complete with good and bad cops, Cuban expatriates, various thugs and a few good friends, 'The Mango Opera' delivers an excellent whodunnit experience.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love most of Tom Corcoran's writing as they are fast-paced, well written, and evocative of the Key West I experienced about 15 years ago. This book has many characters and inter-acting plots which were hard enough to keep up with that the net result was less than satisfying. Maybe it's me. I also love his writing for taking me vicariously back to something which has been lost as Key West gets more "loved-to-death" with huge crowds, more t-shirt shops, etcetc. My last visit there in 2013 was very disappointing. Thank you, Tom, for reminding me that life should never be boring or ritualized into daily routines. Wish I knew your island as you portray it - without the violence !
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Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
I so wanted to love this book!! I searched online for some popular "tropical mysteries" and this author's name came up. Stupidly, I ordered 3 of his books. I am not quite half way through this one and honestly don't think I will be able to finish it. The other 2 will be Christmas presents and hopefully will bring a bit more enjoyment the people who receive them.

The book is boring, plain and simple. I find myself yawning a lot, putting it down, picking it up again, putting it down. I keep thinking it is going to pick up but half way through, it is just as slow as the beginning.

So disappointed!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Now that summer is "officially" here and we have (or take) the time to read those books so often put away or put off until a better time, Mango Opera is a great book to top the "must read" list. Being a land-locked midwesterner that yearns for the spray of saltwater and the taste of fresh seafood, Alex took me on many a "tour" via motorcycle, bike, or on foot to these places. Unfortunately, hang around with Alex too long, and you might be taking the final tour, so to speak. This book's only flaw was the sometimes confusingly large cast of characters. I would find myself having to review by going back a few pages. But happily, once I began reading again, the characters and the plot all took shape nicely. It's a great first try by the author, and for this Parrothead, any reference to Jimmy Buffett, the sun, the sea, or Key West makes it a winner!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Throughout the years, many authors have written mysteries that involve Key West. In the past, Tom Corcoran has lived in the Key's and knows what the culture and life style is there. In this book, The Mango Opera, Corcoran uses a unique writing style. While reading the book, you would get the feeling that you're watching a movie, rather than reading because of the number of people in which are involved. Corcoran's main idea is to get the reader thinking, and wondering who the killer is. Everything the reader knows is from the main character, Alex Rutledge's perspective. He gives the reader about a multitude of different possible suspects that keep you on the edge of your seat. As the author, Corcoran does a great job at making the reader think about what is going on in the book, sometimes the reader has so much to comprehend, that it's almost confusing. The reader often might question if Rutledge could be a prime suspect, because of his connections with the first murder, and then the rest of the girls that follow. Throughout the book, you will learn to trust your good friends, rely on them, and trust them with your life. Along with this book, it connects to two other books that Corcoran has written, all of which involve Key West mysteries, and are made to keep the reader wondering who the murder is. If your looking for a mystery and murders, along with some laughter, this book is a great choice for you.
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