• Don't call for room service.
Released: September 2004
I was on the verge of granting Bentley Little a sidebar tag until making a reservation at The Resort, where the guests, like the roaches, do check in, but often don't check out (sorry — I always loved the marketing of the Roach Motel). It's the third title I have read by Little (his latest, The Vanishing, just hit stores in August), who cooks up some interesting ideas in better novels such as The Ignored and Dispatch and demonstrates a consistent flair for dark comedy and the absurd. The Resort contains plenty of the latter but not so much the great idea part. About two-thirds of the way in, the story meanders and the ship is never righted, failing to reach a conclusion that satisfies on any level. The resort in question is The Reata, a luxury complex where guests find themselves amongst strange doings: The activities director recruits guests into games of basketball that end in bloodshed and severed limbs. A giant, sideways-leaping spider torments a magazine writer in his room, where he often hears the sounds of an all-night party or gunshots in an adjacent room that the staff tells him is empty. A teenager spots a golf driving range where women are tied to poles and pelted by iron shots. Although they realize things are amiss, the guests find themselves under a sort of hoodoo and are powerless to leave. The uninspired denouement sadly goes the clichéd and violent route. I'll give Little at least one more shot with The Store, a 1998 novel that takes discount store culture to new levels of evil and is now in development for a feature film.