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When the famous explorer Richard L. Garner boards the train from Lynchburg in 1921, he is looking forward to a few hours of peace while he prepares the final speech of his fund-raising tour. After tonight's talk in Knoxville about "New Discoveries in Gorilla Family Life," he'll rest for a week and then go back to French Equatorial Africa.
Despite the care with which he has lived his life, Garner could never have anticipated the people who will intrude on him that day: A lovely young woman trying to leave her mistakes behind; a man stalking her who knows her secrets; the man's odd-but-artistic ten-year-old son, and a teenaged "travelin' traveler" who suffers from a rare disease. By the time the train arrives in Knoxville this little "family" of travelers will be so barbarously entangled only an emotional explosion can separate them.
The story opens in Greenville, Tennessee, in 1920 when the young woman, Clara Talbot, and her eventual stalker, Linder Charles, meet by chance in a grocery store. The strange love affair that evolves between them cannot be settled until Clara surrenders to Linder something no longer hers to give. Unfortunately for Professor Garner, their twisting trails have led them aboard his train. When Clara enters his cabin and asks him to help with "her little problem," the course of all their lives will change.
What follows involves thievery, an abduction, a daring leap from the train, an escape through a swamp, manslaughter, and a wild race along the Holston River to assure that everyone winds up in Knoxville at the same time and place. And at every stage: lies–lots of lies–until some final truths are revealed in a way that helps no one.
Funny, gripping, sexy and intelligent, Last Night on the Gorilla Tour is a quirky and entertaining novel about love, family and the animal in us all.
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