It’s one of those things I can’t help but praise no matter how dirty it makes me feel. Tampa is the debut novel of Ohio author Alissa Nutting, and her prose shines through the dark clouds that hover over the theme of the book. So well written that there where moments where I had to set the book down to breathe and comprehend what I had just read, in addition a multitude of others that caused sudden guilty laughter.
Following the misadventures of protagonist Celeste Price, Tampa focuses on a first year eighth grade English teacher who sought out the job in education for the sole purpose of having sex with her meticulously selected male students. Her obsession with flawless youth drives her to not only seek out fourteen year old boys, but to pamper herself in such an extreme manner to offset the effects of aging in any way possible. Price is brought to you in first person and is my favorite type of character in that she has no rehabilitating qualities. There is literally zero effort to create empathy for the character as Price is an unapologetic and blatant sociopath. Her willingness to lie and manipulate every person she encounters for the purposes of satisfying her sexual appetite is so utterly disturbing that I felt a gravity pull me in as I binged through this book.
Unconventional and illegal sexual preferences aside, Celeste Price possesses an evil that I haven’t found in a character since Stephen Stelfox.