THE MAN WHO TURNED BOTH CHEEKS by Gillian Royes

THE MAN WHO TURNED BOTH CHEEKS

KIRKUS REVIEW

Royes (The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, 2011) brings back Shad Myers, bartender and unofficial investigator, to interpret Jamaican culture and the denizens of Largo through fiction.

Traditional fishing no longer supports Largo. Youngsters head off to Kingston or into fantasies about becoming famous DJs. But good news arrives. Simone, the American woman who sought solace in the ruins of a hurricane-ravaged hotel, contacts Eric, owner of the bar where Shad works. Her brother knows an investor who will join Eric in rebuilding the resort hotel. The destroyed hotel had been Eric’s lifelong dream, his retirement Shangri-La. Undecided but near bankrupt, Eric calls his estranged son, Joseph, to write a business plan, promising payment when the prospective investor agrees to financing. Joseph’s unemployed and willing. Also returning to Largo is Janna, beautiful daughter of Lambert, a prosperous contractor. Janna left a copy-editing job in Miami for graphic design school. Now, she’s also job-seeking. Joseph and Janna seem a beautiful-people match, but rumors circulate in Largo that Joseph is homosexual, a “batty man.” That’s based on an earlier visit when Joseph arrived accompanied by effeminate male friends. Shad knows “Jamaica, because it all fallen backward into all the Old Testament malice,” is a dangerous place for gays, especially gay men. However, Joseph and Janna begin a romance that turns into a passionate love affair. Royes is brilliant in bringing Jamaican sun and sea, people and places to life. She’s equally adept with characters: Joseph, proud, uncertain, angry with his neglectful father; Janna, on the cusp of true womanhood, spoiled, lacking direction; Eric, burned out, lonely, frustrated; Shad, ambitious, weighted down with responsibilities; Winston, a fatherless boy blossoming with Shad’s help; and Pastor McClelen, the Typhoid Mary infecting Largo with homophobia. The gentle narrative sails along until Raheem, an attractive male model and Joseph’s lover, flies from the U.S. for a visit. All that’s loathsome in Largo then springs from the shadows dragging a lynching noose. 

A cozy mystery as social commentary.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-2743-5
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2012




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionNOW AND YESTERDAY by Stephen Greco
by Stephen Greco
FictionDEATH IN VENICE, CALIFORNIA by Vinton Rafe McCabe
by Vinton Rafe McCabe
FictionBEDROCK FAITH by Eric Charles May
by Eric Charles May