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
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
Buttons will be available!
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!
Pic by Bradford Dunlop
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
Below: Gearing up for the publication of Rotten Peaches!
Clockwise from top left: at Canzine, on a panel on Noir, at Word On The Street with Inanna Publications, with the Mesdames of Mayhem at the International Affairs Division of the University Club of Mississauga, with the Sisters in Crime at Word On The Street, with the first box of Rotten Peaches! Very exciting times!
"Author Lisa de Nikolits has created characters so tragic and flawed they could be seen on any Hallmark or Lifetime movie because the plot is true to life. Thought-provoking and definitely a must-read, Rotten Peaches should teach everyone a lesson in life and what happens when greed, jealousy and insecurity outweighs common sense and integrity." https://bit.ly/2pT5znq
My wonderful publisher, Inanna, at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018!
I'm truly blessed and grateful to see both
No Fury Like That and Rotten Peaches there!
It was a wonderful event!
We all had such a great time!
The Mesdames and I had a fine time at the Mount Pleasant Library, discussing story endings (do they come before the book even starts?), are short stories harder to write than novels? And where do you get your ideas from. It was a wonderful evening!
The launch of Rotten Peaches was a marvellous event! We had an excellent turnout with huge support from the writing community, friends, readers and family! The event was held at the Women's Art Association of Canada and it was everything we hoped for and more!
I even splurged on a couture blouse that matched the book cover! So a shoutout to Antonio LaMonica and his boutique La Perla Grigia Boutique on the Danforth!
With talented portraiture cover artist, Jennifer Shelswell (top) and wonderful supporter of all my books, Dan Huziak!
Thursday 15th November
Why Toronto? I was with the Crime Writers of Canada at the Mount Pleasant Library. Our discussion highlighted new perspectives and fascinating insights into our great city, Toronto. We had a great evening!
On Saturday 17th of November, I was with the Mesdames of Mayhem at at the breakfast meeting of the Writers and Editors Network and it was such a wonderful event!
I was the host and curator at The Tartan Turban Secret Reading on Friday, the 23rd November, from 7-10pm, at Barrett and Welsh, 577 Kingston Road, Suite 301. My guest readers were Aparna Kaji Shah, Stedmond Pardy, Myna Wallin, Mayank Bhatt, Tehmina Khan, Evadne Macedo, Wubit Zewdu, Micheal Fraser and Gavin Barrett.
"I’m halfway through Rotten Peaches.
A provocative read and excellent writing
M.H. Callway, whose debut survivalist thriller, Windigo Fire, was a finalist for the 2015 Arthur Ellis Best First Novel Award. Her dark suspense novella, Glow Grass, first published in 13 O’Clock, was runner-up for the 2016 AE Best Novella award. Her collected short fiction in Glow Glass and Other Tales (Carrick Publishing 2016) ranges from comedy to noir.
"Lots of devious fun!"
Paul Carlucci, The High-Rise In Fort Fierce
Live near Thornhill? Jonesing for some South African treats and a copy of Rotten Peaches? Visit Sedo Snax, a fabulous South African store!
385 John Street, Unit 2
Thornhill, ON L3T 5W5
So delighted to be featured on New Release Mondays with Judy Penz Sheluk!
This is a thoroughly engrossing book, and Lisa de Nikolits' best. At first I was daunted by the thought of spending time with such a pack of obnoxious characters, but that hesitation was not to last. The characters grew in every sense and in every direction (morally speaking, both up and down). The writing is crisp, funny, sexy and also reflective. Yet I kept asking myself why I was sticking with characters as sociopathic as Leonie and JayRay, and it seemed to me that the author was luring us with the old idea that with all this poo, there must be a pony somewhere. There is — and it's a galloping treat to read.
It was fascinating to see how the culture and politics of South Africa fit into the story and shaped some of its characters. In fact, the book reads with the sharp edge of social satire, including well-aimed darts at consumerism and the beauty industry. That said, it was sometimes difficult for this reader that events unfolded very rapidly as the book neared its end. Occasionally I had to pause and retrace my steps to sort out the details. Small problem for an exuberant and very enjoyable read.
From the novel's fabulous opening line: "I am not a killer. I just fell in love with the wrong man," I was hooked! Lisa de Nikolits is one of the most exciting authors in CanLit today and her latest is a sexy thrill ride jam-packed with twists, turns, suspense and plenty of intrigue. Rotten Peaches has all the perfect ingredients of classic film noir; I kept picturing Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as protagonists Leonie and Bernice. Yet this novel is so much more than just great noir: it's also a study of racism, family dysfunction and the masks that society tells women we must wear (i.e. Career Woman or Happy Mommy). One of my favorite lines sums up the unspoken frustration of motherhood:
"...they pop out from god knows where, these opinionated little strangers. Instead of a ready-made family, you get a bunch of strangers you have to live with." (Page 89, Rotten Peaches)
While it is dangerous to live in the past, it is equally dangerous to try to erase it. In Rotten Peaches, one woman makes peace with her history and moves forward while another woman slowly descends into Hell.
Highly recommended: Rotten Peaches is one of the best novels of the year! – Heather Babcock.
"Rotten Peaches is addictive! I should have been doing other things, but I didn’t. I am not always a noir person, but this noir was great! Leonie is so unblushingly dreadful!
The plot is wonderful, but characters make it work. I love the way Leonie and Bernice change during the novel, and I love their endings. But I also love the way Leonie deteriorates – the end makes me think of the end of the Medea, “The stars will not pity me.”
The writing’s so assured that the book’s also comic, the moral vision contains it and makes it all work too.
Rotten Peaches is Lisa de Nikolits' best book, yet again, and it was absolutely riveting to read (I am a fiction addict, but this was very definitely high on the addictive scale). And I’m looking forward to the next one!"
– Elizabeth Greene, author of A Season Among Psychics
"I read Rotten Peaches during the holiday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lisa de Nikolits has such a nice way with words and is quite the wicked storyteller! Kudos for weaving such a tangled narrative and keeping it flowing, right to the bitter end." – David Wright, Former Managing Editor Connected and the WOW Guide.
“Read the entire Rotten Peaches in one night. Quite the page turner. I loved it! It would make a great film!” – Marianne Petroff
"I'm about halfway through Rotten Peaches. Really liking it so far." – Richard Ehisen
"I finished Rotten Peaches. I really liked it. It was hard to put down. Although these were all very bad people on many levels, I found myself feeling sorry for them as well, or at least for Bernice and Leonie. Their actions were often deplorable, but they were also clearly very damaged people scarred by their upbringing. It would be interesting to see Leonie pop up again somewhere down the road in another story." - Richard Ehisen
A trailer for Rotten Peaches!
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From the Ontario Librarians SuperConference, to Live Radio with CIUT89.5FM, to an Urban Art Folk Salon and a look at social media, what kind of books do you write, we cover it all!
Delighted and honoured to be included in In Their Own Words: Twenty Successful Writers on the Craft and Business of Writing (Mystery and Suspense Edition) edited by Rich Ehisen.
"There is nobody better equipped to give an aspiring author advice than another writer who has gone through the trials and tribulations of seeing their literary dreams through to completion. In Their Own Words: Twenty Successful Writers on the Craft and Business of Writing gives readers a direct line to the thoughts and experiences of some of the most successful writers on the scene today. From award-winning suspense and horror authors like Jonathan Maberry and Alexandra Sokoloff to mystery masters like J.A. Jance and Neal Griffin, In Their Own Words shares insights and firsthand knowledge from writers who simply know how to get it done."
Review By Lynda Dickson (Books Direct)
The title (derived from the Elton John song of the same name) refers to outside beauty hiding the ugliness within. It’s an apt description for all four of the main characters: two ambitious women and the (wrong) men they fall for. Leonie, a chemist whose beauty cream promises more than it delivers, is having an affair with JayRay, a charismatic conman in pursuit of easy riches. He has his sights set on his half-sister Bernice, a self-help writer who is having an affair with political activist Dirk. They’re all hiding secrets and anti-social tendencies, and you never know what they’ll do next. The book is full of unexpected actions and revelations and, even though they are all despicable characters, you’ll find that you just can’t look away from this train wreck. It makes you wonder how much of an impact parents have in determining their children’s behavior as adults.
Review by World As I See It
Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits was a book full of characters that I couldn’t stand. That made this book a hard for me to read because throughout the entire book I started hating each of them more and more. I do have to commend the author because she created a group of characters that are all assholes and someone I would avoid in real life. I was amazed at how well the author was able to make me hate characters right from the start. I don’t know that I have ever read a book where I felt as strongly about the characters as this book did. I do think that this book was written well, and I was glad that I didn’t put it down without finishing it but it isn’t one that I will ever read again.
A fabulous shoutout in the Toronto Star for Rotten Peaches!
With The Crime Writers of Canada at the Ontario Librarian Superconference! A really fun day!
FAB REVIEW BY RUTHIE JONES: READING BY MIDNIGHT!
Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits is rotten to the core, but in a completely fantastic way. The characters are crass, broken, disgustingly selfish, and wholeheartedly messed up. How great is that?
The story follows the two main characters, Leonie and Bernice, with their bad decisions and constant struggle to maintain their flimsy grasp on their so-called realities. They are as different as night and day, and yet they are similar in that they are both neurotic messes and hard-core survivors. The lives of these two women are light years apart, but they share a connection: a sexy con-man named JayRay, Leonie’s lover and Bernice’s alleged half brother.
Rotten Peaches is a frightening glimpse into the underbelly of human selfishness and its ugly consequences. The plot is full of both surprises and predictable ramifications, and the way the author lays everything out makes predicting the ending nigh impossible. But you won’t find any spoilers here because these foolish characters and this twisted plot must be experienced first hand.
Be warned, the story is full of foul language and sexually explicit references and scenes that are not necessarily drawn out and in full detail but more like quick and dirty moments. If you are easily offended, Rotten Peaches is probably not for you. If you don’t mind a few (thousand) F-bombs and such, well then you’re in for a treat. This story will make you shake your head in disbelief at how utterly screwed up these people are and then laugh at how both women crudely land on their feet and have the last word.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself despising the main characters because they are all basically despicable, self-centered blights on humanity who are ready to blame everyone but themselves, yet you have to find out what they will do next. You have to find out how far they will go to hide their sins even as they continue to commit them. You have to find out if they have even a shred of decency and remorse lurking under the surface.
Reading about people who continually self-destruct and then rise from the ashes is exhausting, but the ending is well worth it.
Rotten Peaches rotten to the core,
but in a completely fantastic way.
The characters are crass, broken, disgustingly selfish, and wholeheartedly messed up.