by Tony Burnett
Genre: High-Octane Thriller, Sapphic Romance
Naïve but charismatic farm girl, Jacquelyn Benderman, has her life perfectly planned until her town blames her for the accidental death of the local high school's star running back. Feeling like a pariah, she flees to Austin, Texas where her luck seems to change. Her rapid rise to stardom as a blues diva is derailed when an anonymous stalker begins systematically murdering her associates, leaving the police to suspect her. As Y2K approaches, she wrestles with the guilt of falling for her roommate, a Romanian folk singer who survives as a call-girl, while the show band she sings with rehearses for a national tour. Can she protect her new lover from danger? Will the world end at midnight? Is there no hiding place when everyone knows who you are?
What readers are saying about the book:
Burnett has created an unconventional and magnetic character who makes a memorable first impression. Strong characterizations will keep readers engaged in what happens next in this murder tale. — Kirkus Reviews
"Tony Burnett’s novel, Watermelon Tattoo, is one wild ride. This Texas hill country bildungsroman features Jacqui Benderman, a feral, beautiful, and musically talented eighteen-year-old on her journey from daddy Sarge’s watermelon farm to international stardom. Fast-paced, lusty, and chocked full of wry and insightful commentary on self-discovery, the music industry, and religion, this is one great read by a seasoned author.”
—Gary V. Powell, author of Lucky Bastard, Beyond Redemption, and Super Blood Wolf Moon
In his debut novel Watermelon Tattoo, Tony Burnett serves up the fecundity of Texas in temperatures hovering just above triple digits. Part high octane thriller, part love story, the reader moves fluidly between rural earthiness and Austin's scintillating music scene. We follow Burnett's protagonist Jaqui, a gorgeous 18-year-old with an Ella Fitzgerald voice from a tractor seat to the open mic stage and beyond. Her meth-fueled antagonist is never far behind. The author has an eye for detail, an ear for dialogue, but what's so extraordinary is the novel's ease at blending pacing, plotting, and supple syntax. Spinning cones of dust briefly appeared and disintegrated. This season had ended, for melons, for rain, for redemption. Burnett's characters all seem set on a kind of liberation, a release from or a rescue of the self. His body-on-body scenes—and be forewarned Burnett writes of coupling in myriad forms—are breathtaking, some down and dirty, others beautifully transcendent. A thriller that Don Winslow would not be ashamed to claim, the pages turn by themselves.
--Stephanie Dickinson, author of Razor Wire Wilderness
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Award winning poet and songwriter, Tony Burnett is the Executive Director of Kallisto Gaia Press. He served as President of the Writers’ League of Texas from 2013 to 2017. His poetry, short fiction, and environmentally focused nonfiction appear in over 70 publications. His previous books include the story collection, Southern Gentlemen and a full-length poetry collection, The Reckless Hope of Scoundrels. He resides in rural central Texas with his trophy wife and several rescue dogs who pay him no mind unless hungry. His hobbies include poking wasp nests with short sticks and wandering aimlessly about. He hopes you enjoy meeting his imaginary friends.
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