Check out the second novel by literary femme fatale, Vicki Hendricks, a Florida resident who teaches creative writing. Hendricks is obsessed with the absolute thrill of living, the exciting continuum of human emotion and the rousing buzz of adventure that life continuously has to offer. Voluntary Madness, set in the lush, hedonistic milieu of Key West, digs into the lives of doomed lovers, Juliette, a 22-year-old ex-Cracker Barrel waitress, and Punch, a 44-year-old, half-Jamaican and half-Italian diabetic and alcoholic who is slipping on the rim of death. The couple, both psychologically-ravaged by the crudity of their past lives (Juliette was sexually abused by her father since she was nine), vow to spoil themselves for one year in a pleasure-seeking and exhilarating lifestyle, which Punch would register in a novel-thus art imitates life. While taking the reader on an alcohol and drug-induced, revved-up ride through the tourist attractions and night spots of Key West, the story careens through numerous twists and turns as the couple will try anything for fun, no restraints, even breaking into the Hemingway House for a quick in-and-out. When they get caught by a security guard, Punch accidentally kills him and the plot takes on a more serious tone. Hendricks’ prose noir is entirely raw, sexy and unrelenting. Reminiscent of a female Bukowski, the author portrays well the incurable infection of love in a lonely world amidst the beauty of palm trees and the vulgarity of distressing past experiences.

~Omar Sommereyns