St. Martin's, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
ake Lamar, author of the acclaimed memoir
, gives us a complex and suspenseful mystery in
, using the Eighteenth Arondissement of Paris as his very colorful backdrop. I've been to Paris but not to the Eighteenth Arondissement. I'm sorry now I didn't get there. Lamar writes with the familiarity of a resident, making the streets come alive with colorful descriptions of transvestite hookers, Arab and African markets, strip clubs, and, of course, the ever present tourists.
icky Jenks is a black man at odds with his family in the States. He is content with his life as piano player at a creperie. He has that life turned upside down, inside out, and dangerous with the arrival of his larger-than-life cousin Cash. Cash wants Ricky to help him find his runaway wife - and, incidentally, anything she may have taken with her. The African-American scene in Paris is dissected and laid bare. Lamar manages to say a lot about the black man's condition in the States, Paris and the world in this very well written book - and about differences with other black peoples the world over. I found what he had to say extremely enlightening.
icky is in love with a Muslim, another big blip in his life. She tells him that she can't marry someone who is not a Muslim. Pay attention when reading this book. The plot is complex - but highly satisfying. This is Lamar's first mystery, and he does it well.
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