“Diana Wagman’s fourth novel, “The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets,” is about a Los Angeles divorcée kidnapped by a deranged iguana owner, and it’s Wagman’s best to date — a quick, engaging story, half thriller and half wry domestic drama.”–New York Times
The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets tilts on Winnie’s strength. In her, Wagman has constructed a magnetic figure who is easy to root for…The book also benefits from breathless pace and a dialogue-heavy structure that hints at Wagman’s screenwriting experience and keeps the pages turning.”–Los Angeles Times
“…tense and fast-paced.”–Wall Street Journal
“Wagman’s talent for imagery is well served by the subject matter, and the story is perfectly paced, with humorous breaks in the tension. A PEN Center USA Award winner (for Spontaneous), Wagman has crafted an unusual thriller for psychological crime devotees and fans of the peculiar.”–Publishers Weekly
“Told from multiple points of view—everybody but the iguana is represented—the novel is a darkly humorous and occasionally violent exercise in suspense, and a dramatic exposition of the Stockholm syndrome. Wagman does a nice job of lending her characters psychological depth and creating a fast-paced, readable plot.”–Booklist
“Wagman’s (Bump; Spontaneous; Skin Deep) fourth novel shines is in its complex character development. She gives readers an in-depth, realistic look at the psychological factors motivating her characters, from the shallowness of the celebrities to the insecurities of the teenagers.”–Library Journal
“Wagman has crafted a dark, funny and sensitive thriller that might be the first of its kind: the Oedipal abduction tale.”–Book Page
“Dark, absurd and hysterically funny.”–LA Magazine
“Diana Wagman’s new novel is a beautifully rendered, perverse love story. Man loves woman, lizard loves woman, Wagman deftly infuses the ordinary with shots of horror. You’ll never look at pet ownership the same way again.”–Seth Greenland, author of The Bones and Shining City
“What begins as a single mom’s ordinary chaotic morning launches into a pinball-game of twisted fun when Winnie Parker is kidnapped after dropping her station wagon at the Peugeot mechanic’s. Add one sulky teen daughter, one wonderfully self-impressed celebrity ex-husband, one flashingly weird reptile-obsessed kidnapper and a seven foot iguana, and you have Diana Wagman’s The Care & Feeding of Exotic Pets, a high-speed comic thrill ride that launches the reader against the restraint bar with every turn, while at the same time offering up a surprising array of insights into marriage and midlife. Buckle up and get ready.”–Janet Fitch, White Oleander and Paint it Black
“A seven foot iguana needs a mate. A mother gets into the wrong car. And so begins a truly original thriller that is as unpredictable as it is compulsively readable. Diana Wagman expertly leads us through a world that is horrific, hilarious, surreal and heartbreakingly real turn by elegant turn. The denizens of this novel — innocents and lowlifes, failed dreamers and blunt realists remind us that we are all looking for the same thing: the person who will love and care for our wild and unruly selves.”—Marisa Silver, author of The God of War and Alone With You
Winnie Parker, mother to an angst-ridden teenage daughter and ex-wife to a successful game show host who left her for a twenty-something contestant, begins a normal day in her hum-drum existence by dropping her car off at the repair shop. After accepting what she believes is a ride to pick up her rental car, Winnie realizes too late that she’s been kidnapped.
What follows is a riveting psychological game of cat and mouse set in the kidnapper’s tropically heated house—kept that way for Cookie, a menacing seven-foot long Iguana headquartered in the kitchen. While desperately seeking to escape—which leads to several violent clashes with her increasingly unstable kidnapper—Winnie also tries to understand why she was taken captive. Is her kidnapper merely seeking a ransom or does he have something more sinister in mind? Does he know that Winnie’s mother is an Oscar-winning actress? Or did he connect her with Jonathan, her famous ex-husband? When the truth reveals itself, Winnie is not only forced to fight for her life, but must also protect the lives of those she loves from the kidnapper’s deranged master plan.
An engrossing, darkly humorous, edge-of-your-seat story, The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets explores the dynamic between kidnapper and kidnapped, bizarre reptile lore, and the absurdity of the celebrity lifestyle.
Diana Wagman is the author of the novels Bump, Spontaneous—which won the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction—and Skin Deep. She is also a contributing writer to the Los Angeles Times.