JAMAICA RUN by Clifford Mason


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Jamaica plod is more like it--since, to an even greater extent than The Case of the Ashanti Gold (1985), this second outing for black NYC shamus Joe Cinquez is a Slow, chaotic ramble, overlong (400 pp.) and overpopulated. Things start intriguingly enough, with the murder of Joe's sweetly bossy Brooklyn landlady, Irish Hylton from Jamaica--who has surprisingly left a $3 million estate. But within hours there are two more killings in the local Jamaican community, plus the murder of Joe's newspaperman-pal Reg (who was digging into doings down in Jamaica). Then add two kidnappings, two damsels-in-distress who might be femme-fatales, and a slew of conspiracies--involving Jamaica's marijuana trade (a new super-ganja formula), its black-market in currency, its government corruption and land thefts. And when, after 200 pp. of warmup, Joe finally heads down to the islands, the killings start again--while convoluted secrets from the Hylton-family past (murder, identity-switches, etc,) are added to the increasingly messy plot. Joe, a wry, efficient, and occasionally stylish narrator, remains a series-hero with potential--especially since the genre is short on black private-eyes. But, instead of exploring New York's rich urban realities, Mason again opts for an outlandish, frenetic scenario--delivered in a talky, meandering manner that dilutes Joe's modicum of distinctive charm.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's