Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The PMS Outlaws

By Sharyn McCrumb

The story really begins in the 1950s, when a bootlegger, Jack Dolan, ran a police barricade which resulted in a fiery crash. Dolan's car was loaded with homemade whiskey and went up like a bomb, enveloping not only his car but also a police car. A man was critically burned and spent months in the hospital but Dolan was thrown clear and escaped only to be nabbed later by the police.
Unrelated to this, a couple of students at college decades later decided to enact a little revenge for a cruel joke pulled on a fellow student. This student, a chubby girl, had been invited to a frat party only to find out it was a "pig party" where the frat boys invite unattractive girls and the boy with the homeliest girl wins a prize. Of course, the girls, for the most part, don't know that is what is happening and this particular girl was devastated when she found out. So two of her dorm mates track down her "date" and trick him into getting naked at which point they tie him up outside, take photos, and leave him to be discovered in the morning.
Now we are back to present day, where Elizabeth MacPherson has lost her husband and has taken up residence in a mental hospital to treat her subsequent depression. One of her fellow patients is an old man with terrible burn scars. It's the same man that was burned in the car crash back in the 1950s. He is also being treated for depression.
Elizabeth's lawyer brother Bill and his law partner, A.P. Hill, have decided it is time to upgrade their offices. To that end, Bill has purchased a large, beautiful home in the antebellum style (though built in the 1940s). The house does have a small problem, it comes with a built-in resident, the house's original owner, who is none other than Jack Dolan, ex-bootlegger and now in his 90s. Dolan doesn't take up much room, though, and seems pretty spry for his age and really doesn't bother the new owner beyond his desire for bags and bags of sugar.
A.P. Hill receives a phone call from an old college acquaintance, P.J. Purdue. Like Hill, Purdue went on from college to law school and is now a lawyer. But Purdue, who always had a wild streak, has gone off the rails. She helped her client, Carla Larkin, escape police custody and now the two of them are enticing gullible men into trysts and robbing them, leaving their victims handcuffed and naked, just like the two college girls who punished the pig party frat boy. This is because Purdue was one of those two girls and now she is reliving and revisiting that revenge on more guys, helped this time by the beautiful Carla.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is languishing in the mental hospital, zonked on drugs and failing to deal with her loss. Though she does share the information that her brother just bought a house with an elderly tenant named Jack Dolan with the scarred fellow patient, Hillman Randolph, who is mightily surprised to hear Jack Dolan survived that terrible car crash. For forty plus years, Hillman had thought Dolan died that night.
This various trails all come together one night at the Jack Dolan house. Hillman, Dolan, both MacPhersons, Hill, Purdue, and Larkin all meet in a climax that is both amusing and non-fatal, the best sort of ending.

This was an enjoyable read, with the various character coming together in a grand climax at the end. All the characters had interesting stories, although the title characters, the PMS outlaws, were not the lead characters. The lead characters were Elizabeth and A.P. Hill and a lot of the story is spent with Elizabeth as she is staying in the mental hospital and meeting her fellow patients. I wasn't enamored with that part of the story, which I found a bit tedious. But other than that, I thought it was a pretty good tale and all the plot lines brought together very nicely.

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