Suicide devastates both a prosperous Canadian and a Nigerian family in this first novel from filmmaker, playwright, and short story writer Idada (A Box of Chocolates, 2013, etc.).
After discovering her husband’s infidelities, Annabelle Sciorra dons her wedding dress and commits suicide by hanging herself. Her husband, Andrew, is in the midst of one such tryst when he receives news of her death, which sends him into an immediate fugue state. Thanks to the diamond trade, the Sciorra clan is one of the five wealthiest families in Canada. Now their fortune is vulnerable to the scheming Timothy Vinelatter, a sociopathic businessman who’s stolen the heart of Therese, Andrew and Annabelle’s only daughter. Luckily, Phillip Neri, Andrew’s loyal personal assistant, sees past Timothy’s facade. The two men wage war over Andrew’s reputation in a series of power plays that involves a powerful Canadian newspaper editor, a malicious private investigator, and one of Andrew’s mistresses. Idada intersperses the Sciorra saga with the story of Nigeria’s Eweka family. After his street-smart, troubled older son, Osasu, robs him of his business, Ibude Eweka commits suicide by gassing himself with “the noxious fumes” of his car’s exhaust pipe. His grief-stricken younger son, Nosa, promptly heads to Canada to track down his brother; Osasu, meanwhile, conspires to steal the Sciorra family fortune by romancing Angela Di Canio, the late Annabelle’s assistant. Although the Osasu and Nosa passages add a welcome dash of social realism—particularly those concerning the latter’s immigrant struggles in Canada—they nonetheless seem tangential to the Sciorra theatrics that dominate the majority of the narrative. That said, the connections between the two families deepen by the book’s end, and as this book is the first entry of a proposed trilogy, those bonds will likely strengthen in subsequent volumes. For now, Idada, like a patient chess player, slowly ratchets up the tension with his compelling cat-and-mouse games. He also writes occasionally haunting prose, as in an early image of Annabelle’s deceased body as slack “like a marionette at rest.”
Well-drawn characters and startling turns of phrase distinguish this soapy, suspenseful start of a trilogy.