Where to start with this over-the-top, but remarkably enjoyable, book? Maybe with the title. The thought processes of some characters are certainly curious, including those of the eccentric multibillionaire Emerson Knight. But at least with Emerson we sense that he, like Hamlet, has method in his madness. Other minds (mostly the bad guys’) lurch ominously beyond curious into downright pathological. The curiosity of our heroine, red-haired Riley Moon, is aroused as she strives to fulfill Emerson’s stated desire to view his gold reserves. The story itself certainly gets curiouser and curiouser, like Alice’s Wonderland. Besides channeling the inspired lunacy of Lewis Carroll, reminders of other classics from children’s lit abound: the reckless runs of Mr. Toad; Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and Dorothy’s determined trek through Oz.
Dorothy/Alice’s role in this story is played by freshly minted Harvard grad, feisty Texas transplant Riley Moon. True, there’s no lion, but there are zebras; an armadillo instead of a scarecrow; no Tin Woodman but lots and lots of gold. Standing in for Auntie Em is Aunt Myra, who proves her worth as the countrywide saga plays out. The Wizard? Oh, that would be the transcendental and resourceful Mr. Knight.