Before I begin I would like to state that no tigers were harmed in the writing of this book and review.
Tigers in Red Weather is set in what is quickly becoming my favourite period of American history, that hazy alcohol fuelled glorious period after the Second World War. The picket fences were as white as white can be, but behind them, in their full circle skirts were the housewives of America; sipping cocktails and keeping secrets. The tragedy of Jay Gatsby isn’t just for the wealthy and West Egg. Nick and her cousin have spent many summers together at Tiger House, with their husbands and eventually their children. One summer, Helena’s Ned finds the body of a maid.
This story is told in a rare way. All sense of order and chronological order are thrown out the windows. Instead we hear from each member of the family one by one. The beautiful Nick, the unstable Helena, the withdrawn Hughes, the ambitious Daisy and the strange Ned. They take to the stage and tell the tale of their life. How they got to be at Tiger House, the discovery of the body and the aftermath. They carry on as normal. They through extravagant parties to impress as normal. They pretend everything is fine. More than fine, perfect.
Despite a lot going on and the rich history of event, this book is about the people. (My university education of either plot or character is ingrained in me and I can’t help but comment on which a story is.) There’s sex, heat, booze and secrets but I cared for these characters. The way Klaussmann writes is gorgeous and compelling. I was driven to keep reading and finish it so I could hear from the next character and the next and the next. I had to get in their heads! Your patience and dedication is rewarded at the end when we finally hear from him. Drink and keeping up appearances will mask all manner of sins. It doesn’t keep them hidden. Secrets come out eventually.