OCEAN ROAD by Jack Bennett


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Adam Brand is the role Humphrey Bogart used to play--expatriate, nerveless, physically indestructible, with a monumental cynicism and a modicum of irreducible idealism. The setting is East Africa--Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar-that-was--but this scenario has been played against an endless variety of national coasts. One last gun run (or spy job or sabotage), pay from freedom (or power) hungry primitives, and it's back to England, with the girl next to him--the one he hasn't had time or energy to do more than throb at across a distance during the course of the old, old plot. Mr. Bennett is a craftsman in storytelling. His hallmarks in Jamie, Mr. Fisherman and The Hawk Alone were his sure touch with the encapsulation of solitude and the response to it of both youth and old age. His settings for those were present day Africa, neither sentimentalized nor brutalized, but a vastness over violence. Sometimes an expert can take poor material and re-finish it attractively. However, in this novel Mr. Bennett has failed to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. It's a brutal, sentimental, greatly reduced landscape, populated with African, Indian, unattractive or unintelligent newly independent ex-colonials. Uhuru-hum.

Publisher: Little, Brown