The Big Mango

Norman Kelley, Author
Norman Kelley, Author Akashic Books $14.95 (270p) ISBN 978-1-888451-10-8
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
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Want a scathing social and political satire? Look no further than Kelley's second effort featuring ""bad girl"" African-American PI and part-time intellectual Nina HalliganDit's X-rated, but a romp of a read. Father Pierre-Pierre Bernard, the Aristide-like president of the Haiti-like isle of Misericordia (or ""Big Mango""), has lost power in his country and wants Nina's help to get it back. While in Washington to meet the exiled president, Nina consoles friend Gale, a history professor who turns S/M tricks on the side, after Gale's husband, Michael, an aide to the Clinton-like U.S. president, is found with half his head blown off in a hotel bedroom. To add to the horror, the seemingly straight Michael had been engaging in gay sexDand shooting up heroin. Or had he? Motivated in part to find the killer of her own husband, who along with their two children was horribly murdered in her first outing, Black Heat (1997), Nina goes to Misericordia, where the rebel factions that ousted Bertrand are fighting among themselves. Nina's old lover, Luc, comes back into her life in a blaze of bazookas, and she consorts (and cavorts) with an outlandish cast of characters, from a hermaphrodite to a voodoo priestess. Nina's acid takes on recognizable public figures and institutions both amuse and offend. (Calling Lingua Franca ""an utterly useless, niche-market magazine for the academically inclined"" is one of her milder putdowns.) Kelley spares no one, blacks and whites alike, and this provocative novel is sure to attract attention, if only after it's burned by legions of angry, mystified mystery fans. (Oct.)
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