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Rendezvous Eighteenth    by Jake Lamar order for
Rendezvous Eighteenth
by Jake Lamar
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Jake Lamar, author of the acclaimed memoir Bourgeois Blues, gives us a complex and suspenseful mystery in Rendezvous Eighteenth, 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.

Ricky 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.

Ricky 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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