A governor and his sordid past are at the heart of a tale of retribution in Amaru’s stunning debut novel.
When Karen Lafitte disappears, her father, Louisiana governor Randy Lafitte, is initially skeptical of the ensuing ransom note. The governor believes that he’s responsible for his father’s death years earlier, resulting in a curse that’s been passed down the Lafitte line. He’s particularly concerned that his daughter is now the same age as his son, Kristopher, was when he was killed—18. In fact, in addition to money, the ransom note demands the pardon of a lifer, Lincoln Baker, who was imprisoned for the murderer of Randy’s son. What follows is an elaborate pattern of revenge involving multiple parties that delve into the Lafitte family history and Randy’s dark road to an elected office. Amaru’s greatest achievement is a nonlinear story that still manages to be clean-cut and precise. The plot bounces readers from one time period to another—flashbacks sometimes occur during other flashbacks, and dream sequences meld into memories and back into real time. Despite this narrative style, the story is, surprisingly, never perplexing. Amaru skillfully manages this feat by presenting uncertainty—such as Lincoln’s relationship with a man named Amir—but immediately clarifying it with prior events, complete with a time stamp. Similarly, voodoo and many appearances of loa (spirits) are treated sincerely, not merely as wacky, otherworldly manifestations. The thorough examination of peoples’ pasts allows for sharp, distinct characters. This heightens the tension between characters engaged in high-pressure situations, of which the author has ample supply. For deep-rooted characters immersed in violence, the novel’s defining moment may be a wounded man reciting the Lord’s Prayer aloud while dodging bullets in a blistering gun battle.
A gutsy book that blazes trails, plotted at a breakneck speed that won’t let up.