book review By Bentley Little
Signet Books, 438 pp, 2001
So, do you think the homeowner's association in your neighborhood is bad? Try living in the Bonita Vista gated community, where the HOA can (and does) enter your home at any time to enforce their precious C, C, and Rs and any homeowner who resists ends up dead or disappeared. Or worse.
Barry Welch and his lovely wife Maureen think they've found urban paradise in Bonita Vista, but they failed to read the HOA's rules and regulations before moving in. For example, there's the rule that says no pets are allowed. Or children. And three walls in each room inside your house must be blank, with the fourth wall dedicated to HOA-approved art. No minorities can live in Bonita Vista. No non-Bonita Vista residents can even visit. Exterior landscaping must be approved by the HOA, or the HOA can replace it - at your expense.
The board is made up of six old men, including board president Jasper Calhoun, who lives in the biggest house in the subdivision and wears heavy pancake makeup and a flowing judicial-like robe in public. HOA lackeys like Neil Campbell enforce HOA rules, thanks to neighbors who seem friendly but may be an HOA informant (trust no one!).
So that's the setup. It is implausible? Yes. A bit over the top? No doubt. But great fun and a necessary jab at HOAs? You bet!
A brief aside: Personally, I don't care for homeowner's associations. Too many of them seem filled with Hitler Housewives and blue-haired busybodies who show no common sense or flexibility while butting their noses into your business and complicating your life. People don't need that kind of hassle, and I'm glad Little has targeted them in this book. These associations need to be targeted, and humiliated, and ashamed.
One last charm of the book. It's really about HOAs, and not a horror story that just happens to have some HOA members as characters. The entire plot relies on the HOA and its murderous methods of enforcing its rules. The absolute best part, though, is the end, in which our hero saves the day by - guess what? - quoting articles from the C, C, and Rs!