Bronzy (761.207, 2017) delivers a whimsical thriller about a refugee’s struggles in America.
Haway Halabi is a displaced person from the Middle East who’s been relocated to Boise, Idaho. Although she speaks good English and is well-liked by those around her, she longs for her hometown of Aleppo. Of course, with Syria still at war, a return to Aleppo is impossible, so Haway keeps busy the best that she can, attending college classes and designing headscarves. Luckily, she’s aided by her pleasant, artist uncle Dahan. But when he dies suddenly, ostensibly of a heart attack, she thinks the circumstances are suspicious. Why was Dahan visited by two men shortly before he died? Readers find out that the pair, Otto Hahn and Pierro Conti, work for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. They have an unofficial mission to track down religious artifacts and documents, and when they seize such items, they tend to quietly dispose of those who possess them. But while they may have killed Dahan, they didn’t manage to find an ancient chest he owned. What does the chest contain, and how far will the men go to find it? This conflict is at the heart of the swirling tale, though it’s hardly the whole story. Additional characters include, but are not limited to, a one-legged military veteran, an African-American New York City rabbi, and an investigator from a task force called AFRICA (named after the American Freedom to Report and Implicate or Collusion Act). Despite the abundance of players and geographic locations, however, the narrative is never difficult to follow, even when Bronzy takes readers to strange, surprising places. The multitude of back stories, though, can be overwhelming at times. The lengthy, detailed story behind the veteran’s loss of his leg, for example, isn’t particularly thrilling, nor is it pertinent to the greater struggle. Readers wind up learning a lot about relatively minor characters, but it adds more to the page count than to the overall excitement.
A creative but cluttered book that swarms with twists and turns but may lose readers in gratuitous detail.