The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French
Published: 2011 by Doubleday
During the Cold War, a pregnant Marylou Ahearn was an unaware participant in a top secret study about the effects of radioactivity. The effects of the study — physical and emotional — took a few years to arise, and Marylou never could quite move beyond it. So, at the age of 77, she decides to take matters into her own hands and sets out to kill the doctor who ran the study.
Such is the premise of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady. What Marylou doesn’t know, however, is that the doctor, Wilson Spriggs, is suffering from dementia and lives with his daughter and her family; all of whom have their own issues. She moves into the neighborhood, takes on an alias, Nancy Archer (from the cult film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) and works her way into the family; she doesn’t feel right killing Spriggs if he is not aware of the reason why, so she intends to hurt his family as she believes he hurt hers.
I have to say that after reading Elizabeth Stuckey-French’s short story collection The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa, I had doubts about this novel, because the short stories did not interest me. But I was pleasantly surprised; Radioactive Lady is a quirky novel with some interesting (at times, weird) characters that also says something about family bonds (love them or hate them, they are still your family). I thought part of the ending was a bit of a stretch, but otherwise this was a very enjoyable novel.