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Midnight Cactus

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Early in Midnight Cactus, Bella Pollen’s absorbing novel, Londoner Alice Coleman reflects: ”Unhappiness is a dangerous thing, like carbon monoxide. You don’t smell it, you don’t taste it…but it poisons slowly.” In her case, the toxin is a crumbling marriage, and the cure is relocating with her two kids to Temerosa, Ariz. — a dilapidated area near the Mexican border — where she befriends Duval, a local renegade, and town caretaker Benjamín Weaving their story lines into Alice’s, Pollen transforms a seemingly familiar tale of a woman on the verge into a lively meditation on how far people will go to escape the grip of the past.