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MR. CLARINET by Nick Stone


by Nick Stone

Pub Date: June 26th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-06-089729-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

Set in Haiti, this debut thriller talks and talks the talk, but forgets the walk.

Ex-cop, ex-p.i. Max Mingus is about to become an ex-con. Eight years earlier, he’d been sent up for a triple killing he viewed as justified inasmuch as the law, he felt safe in saying, would not have adequately punished the low-lifes he blew away. As a p.i., Max had been world class, the best there ever was, according to some. Among these, count multimillionaire Allain Carver. “You’ve performed—miracles,” he tells Max fulsomely, who seems disinclined to argue. The Carvers, a powerful, immensely rich Haitian family, lost a child when little Charlie was snatched off the streets by person or persons unknown. Or perhaps not. Soon enough, Max learns that it’s a situation abounding in ambiguity. And enemies—earned through the years by unvarnished ruthlessness. The Carver proposition: ten-million dollars if Max finds Charlie alive; five million if he produces Charlie’s lifeless body; another five if it’s the no-goods that are produced, condition immaterial. At first Max refuses. In part because he’s not sure he likes his chances; in part because he has his own reasons for disenchantment with Haiti. And there’s a third factor, perhaps the most compelling. Sandra, his beloved wife, has only recently died in an auto accident, leaving Max in an emotionally fragile state. Still, little Charlie proves difficult for Max to ignore. It’s the eyes in the photograph— “calling out to him, imploring him to come to his rescue. Magic eyes.” When Sandra appears to Max in a dream, urging him to take the case, the deal is sealed, and off he goes to dark and dreary Carver Country—a land of murder, perversion and thin characters.

Endless conversations—some digressive, some banal—too many of them narrative killers.