In Resort, con artist tag team Danny and Jill are broke and desperate in Acapulco when Jill introduces Danny to a wealthy English older couple who could be their next target. Even better, the man promises to give Danny a shot at movie stardom, which has been Danny’s dream since he and Jill first met in university. Despite the credit card scams they pull on unsuspecting tourists, all Danny really wants to do is start a theatre company with Jill in a small town, and he hopes that scamming the English couple will give them enough funds to do just that.
A few chapters in, we realize that things have gone wrong, as Danny’s narration shifts from following the English couple across Mexico to announcing that he’s now in King’s Reach minimum security prison on Vancouver Island for drug trafficking. It’s a jarring shift, and one that I admit pulled me from the story somewhat, as the Mexican storyline was, to me at least, just starting to finding its legs. In prison, under the advice of the prison psychologist, Danny plans a stage production of The Tempest, a play whose significance doesn’t become clear until the last few chapters.
Resort begins as a light-hearted crime caper, but soon develops into a more thoughtful reflection of Danny and Jill’s relationship and how love has the potential to keep us wilfully blind to potentially painful truths. Told from Danny’s perspective, the narrative switches between Danny and Jill’s plot to fleece the English couple in Mexico and Danny’s present-day life in prison where directing The Tempest does little to decrease how much he misses Jill and how worried he is that she still hasn’t visited him. The story is later revealed to be an account Danny writes as an assignment for his psychologist, so the veracity of many of the things he says is suspect, but what there is is somewhat of a slow burning tragedy of betrayal.
I found the pacing too slow, and the dual storylines too drawn out. Part of me wishes we didn’t have the early reveal about Danny’s incarceration, as it removed a lot of the suspense around the Mexico storyline. We already know the plan goes awry; it’s just a matter of finding out exactly how, and while some of the reveals along the way are surprising, it takes far too long a time to unravel.
Daley is deliberately cagey about Jill’s motivations throughout the story. Even at the end, it’s never quite clear if the love story is a tragic one about an innocent person duped by their partner, or if it’s a story of true love about con artists who had the perfect partnership and pulled off an extremely complex plot, or possibly even if it’s somewhat of a hybrid of both. I can imagine any of the three possibilities being the truth, but I never quite believed in their love story enough to really feel invested in it. As a result, I felt sympathetic towards both characters for the ways in which their lives turned out, but I never quite rooted for them to get together.
Resort is a well-written novel with commentary about the lives we dream to have, the reality we end up in, and the stories we tell ourselves and other people. It’s not quite the right fit for me, as I never connected emotionally to the characters or their stories, but more patient readers may better appreciate the nuances in the unraveling.
Thank you to Tightrope Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.