DR. BRINKLEY’S TOWER by Robert Hough (Anansi), 411 pages, $24.95 paper. Rating: NNN
He does love his stock characters, but Robert Hough also tells a great story.
In a Mexican border town in the 1930s, the American Dr. Brinkley builds a radio tower whose signal is so strong that it reaches Russia.
With all the tower's economic benefits come deep corruption, more customers than the local brothel can handle and, worst of all, a radio feed that's received through every piece of metal in town, including orthodontics.
There are vivid descriptions of the scorching climate, the deliciousness of the world's best tequila and the details of everyday village life.
But get ready for some characters that verge on stereotypes: the madam with the heart of gold, the crusty mayor who does little until circumstances move him to heroic action, the village beauty seduced by the charlatan Dr. Brinkley, and Brinkley himself - who actually did exist - who made his fortune performing surgeries to correct erectile dysfunction. He's a slimeball.
And there's something slightly reactionary in the idea that new technologies are fundamentally, or only, evil.
But Dr. Brinkley's Tower is an entertaining page-turner.
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