AMERICAN TROPIC by Thomas Sanchez


Email this review


A Southern gothic with a pro-environment veneer. 

In the dead of night, in the waters off Key West, a pirate radio broadcaster rants, encouraging callers to “Show me your rage.” Cut to a house in town, where an early-rising woman fondles her lesbian partner before strapping on a loaded Glock. Cut to a corpse in the ocean, tied to a buoy, ears cut off, lips sewn together. Cut to a floating raft, bearing dead men, women and children. No one can accuse Sanchez (King Bongo, 2003, etc.) of being slow out of the gate in his sixth novel. The broadcaster, Noah Sax, is the novel’s flawed hero. The rum-sodden disbarred lawyer styles himself an “eco-shock jock,” railing against the destruction of the environment. The woman is Luz Zamora, a fifth-generation Cuban-American and a Key West detective. The bodies on the raft are Haitian refugees. And the mutilated corpse was a partner in a huge new resort development which will harm the environment. There will be five more murder victims, all of them doing really bad things to Mother Nature. So there’s a serial killer on the loose, and through a microdigital recorder left in the mouth of the second victim, he identifies himself as Bizango, the Haitian voodoo avenger who punishes wrongdoers. This latest incarnation wears a full-body rubber suit painted with skeleton bones; his weapon is a steel spear. The bumbling police department briefly (and ludicrously) eyes the lone Haitian survivor, a terrified teenager, as the killer, before charging Noah (another blooper). Bizango outdoes himself by killing the captain of a cruise ship in his cabin and then invading the town’s Halloween parade, spearing the last of the resort partners on his float. The environmental theme is the junior partner in a bad marriage, overwhelmed by the blood and guts. When the killer’s identity is finally revealed, it will be the most improbable detail of all.

Even as a spoof, which is how it reads, this lurid work is less than entertaining.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-400-04232-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2012


FictionKING BONGO by Thomas Sanchez
by Thomas Sanchez
FictionDAY OF THE BEES by Thomas Sanchez
by Thomas Sanchez


FictionTHE REEF by Juan Villoro
by Juan Villoro
FictionMEN IN MIAMI HOTELS by Charlie Smith
by Charlie Smith
FictionTHE MANGO OPERA by Tom Corcoran
by Tom Corcoran