A noir page-turner that digs into the darkest corners of the human heart, Rotten Peaches dissects the lives of Leonie and Bernice, women who live continents apart but are linked by the attentions of a charismatic con man, JayRay. Leonie, a kleptomaniac chemist for an up and coming cosmetics company in Toronto, juggles her trade show junkets with a taste for petty theft and an abusive affair with JayRay. Meanwhile, in South Africa, JayRay’s half-sister Berenice, author of a best-selling series of self-help baking books based on recipes she’s appropriated from her black housekeeper, is in love with a man committed to returning South Africa to white control. Slowly the two stories begin to merge: as one woman struggles for redemption and self-knowledge, the other slips into a whirlpool of deception and violence. Lisa de Nikolits succeeds in creating a disturbing, mesmerizing tale in which the boundaries of good and evil, justice and punishment, are blurred by family secrets, racism, and sexual obsession.
– Terri Favro, author of Once Upon a Time in West Toronto
“I am not a killer. I just fell in love with the wrong man”
In Rotten Peaches, two women grapple with Sisyphean circumstances, paralleled in the seeming inescapable strength of the demons they harbour. Lisa de Nikolits is a skilled craftswoman, gripping the reader from the first page, and suspends her there, brow furrowed, as each new disaster unfolds, highlighted always by our two heroes’ inability to turn away from the men they love and the dangerous plots they’ve been seduced into. With cons, political unrest, poison, sex, and murder plots, Rotten Peaches is an unflinchingly cinematic read. – Robin Richardson, author of Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis
Welcome to the world of sales cons, messed-up self-help authors, hotel room hookups and murder most vile. Rotten Peaches delivers hilarious thrills and villainous chills right to its final twist. A wild, sexy romp of a book! – Carol Bruneau, author of A Bird on Every Tree
An avant garde page-turner, written with honesty and insight that both caresses and shocks. Set around the corner and across the world, Rotten Peaches is an intimate study of human nature in all its imperfect glory. Lisa de Nikolits expertly weaves the lives of four unique characters into a story that rolls out as curiously as life itself. This novel romps with humour and stark private moments in a rhythm that builds with suspense to the climax, a sequence of chilling scenes at a South African farm. Here, de Nikolits uses her art to its highest good to show the reader a vivid and unforgettable snapshot of the country post-apartheid. In supermarkets, fruit is displayed with the shiny side outward, bruises and flaws hidden behind. While there’s no pretending in Rotten Peaches , all flaws are front and centre, there is braveness and truth at its pit.” – Jennifer Soosar, author of Parent Teacher Association
An intense tale of looking for love in all the “wronged” places … a bitter brew, often unnerving … relentless … hugely intriguing … a telling of mighty meltdowns at a reckless helter-skelter pace.
Bernice and Leonie relate with keen insightfulness and gripping candour, their individual see-sawing and perilously-brewed stories, born of cumulative despair-festering inner wounds … there is this to and fro, pushed- to- the- limits … wide-open and risky vulnerability displayed, alongside a dangerous emotional distancing … a palpable anxiety which pulses throughout.
Rotten Peaches is an exploration of damage and shame and prejudice, examining the needs and greeds and horrors thereof. Fears trigger isolation and alienation and humiliation. Jagged despair feeds destruction, condemnation and denial. There is this relentless agitation. Hazardous uncertainty and fear ferments this toxic tale.
The explosive sensuality , the fleeting, shifting pleasures of Rotten Peaches are braided together with anguish and doubt and anger. Rotten Peaches.. is a vivid and gut-wrenching story… it is so forceful that it feels as if it always existed! – Shirley McDaniel, Artist
Rotten Peaches is a magnificently written novel that comprehensively combines almost every genre out there! Lisa de Nikolits dramatically explores our time as we try to understand incomprehensible human nature. A gripping, couldn’t-put-down tale of impulsive, irrational, and extreme interactions that are raw, shocking, historical, political and horrific while still being relatable. Rotten Peaches is a thrilling escape and a thought-provoking novel.
– Marilyn Riesz, MA,RP Registered Psychotherapist and Co-Author of Bake Your Way to Happiness
In Rotten Peaches, Lisa de Nikolits has written a novel that combines the irreverent energy of pulp with the cool amorality of film noir. With multiple plot lines that weave a tight chokehold of suspense—and characters who are at least as twisted as their stories—this tale of obsessive love, rage, and revenge is sure to make you shiver. – Karen Smythe, author of This Side of Sad
Rotten Peaches is a gripping epic filled with disturbing and unforgettable insights into the human condition. Love, lust, race and greed. How far will you go? Two women. Two men. One happy ending. It takes place in Canada, the U.S. and South Africa. Nature or nurture. South Africa, racism and old prejudices – these are hardly old topics but what happens when biological half-siblings meet with insidious intentions? Can their moral corruption be blamed on genetics - were they born rotten to begin with? And what happens when they meet up with more of their ilk? What further havoc can be wreaked, with devastating familial consequences?
Perennial author Lisa de Nikolits is back in 2018 after publishing No Fury Like That in 2017 and The Nearly Girl in 2016. While Rotten Peaches is a slight departure from those two well-known books, the four main characters in Rotten Peaches are cut from the same vile cloth as No Fury’s Julia Redner and her boss/squeeze Junior. This time around, there’s no Purgatory for second chances as there was in No Fury Like That; nor any Dr. Carroll to tell them to “Do the opposite thing!” as in The Nearly Girl. The four only have their dysfunctional moral compasses that keep directing them deeper and deeper into the underside of life.
“God, like luck, has left the building of my life.”
To be fair, everything is not all dismal; the two female antagonists, Leonie and Bernice eventually come to grips with their situation and try to make the best of living with the consequences of their actions. The two men, however, James (JayRay) and Dirk are repetitive losers who are constantly looking to make easy money off wealthy females. There are thieveries, poisonings, sexual affairs, blackmail, racially driven hatred (of the South African kind) and so on. As in her two previous novels, Ms. de Nikolits employs her knowledge of psychology to help one of her characters (in this case Leonie) grapple with their not-quite-hopeless situation, and this gives the reader some food for thought and a respite from all the dirty dealings that are occurring, such as when, back in South Africa, Bernice is taking the law into her own hands:
I can still smell the spilled blood and the acrid sweat that rose from the men’s skin as they died. I lean over the cool toilet, hugging the bowl. You’ll have to live with the consequences, Pa had said. He’s right. I have to get my act together.
Rotten Peaches starts off somewhat deliberately and the characters first appear quite superficial, although I think this is wholly intentional on Ms. de Nikolits’ part; past history demonstrates she knows what she’s doing in the character development aspect of fiction writing. About half of the way through the book, the mood turns foreboding as the plot thickens and all four characters, now fully evolved, are faced with their own potential Waterloos. The reader’s initial dislike of the four ‘rotten peaches’ (and perhaps the plot as well) is remunerated by an ending that cannot be described by any other term other than satisfying. Ms. de Nikolits’ faithful readers will not be disappointed, and she assures me that her next book is more in the vein of No Fury Like That and The Nearly Girl. Now that’s something to look forward to! I rated this four stars at Goodreads for a good “light” crime-fiction read. – James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader.
Note: this review is based on an Advance Reading Copy supplied by the author in return for a fair review. Rotten Peaches will be available in the Fall of 2018 from Innana Publishing.
Wow. Just wow.
Lisa de Nikolits’ Rotten Peaches blew me away.
A dark, compulsive, and addictive story in which the characters’ secrets and needs conflict with each other and fold back in on themselves in an ever-tightening noose, Rotten Peaches will keep readers gripped until the very last page. Highly recommended!
– Karen Dionne, international bestselling author of The Marsh King’s Daughter.
Advance Reader Reviews of Rotten Peaches
Many thanks to Jennifer Shelswell for this amazing cover artwork! The four characters are just perfect! From the top left: Dirk, Bernice, Leonie and JayRay
Advance Review of Rotten Peaches
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Art inspires art! Bake Your Way to Happiness is a real book!
If you read Rotten Peaches, you will see where the inspiration for Bake Your Way to Happiness came from! Along with two amazing collaborators, Marilyn Evii and Gilean Watts, this book within a book became a real thing! Yes, you can Bake Your Way to Happiness! Along the way, with Rotten Peaches, I'll have special contests where you could win a copy of Bake Your Way to Happiness. But if you don't want to wait, you can buy a copy today! Best Health magazine thought it was a great idea!
In Rotten Peaches, Lisa de Nikolits has masterfully written two protagonists that are both thoroughly unsympathetic and utterly compelling. It’s impossible to look away as these two women do very bad things in the pursuit of love, happiness and meaning. And I do mean "very bad"—which makes this book a wild, weird ride, but one that’s very worth taking.
—Stacy Lee Kong, Contributing Editor, Flare magazine
Interview on She Kills Lit:
And mentioned by the 49th Shelf as Most Anticipated Fall Fiction!