THE BIG KILLING

Robert Wilson, Author . Harvest $14 (336p) ISBN 978-0-15-601119-8

Even though it was published in the U.K. in 1996, Wilson's second Bruce Medway West African mystery seems particularly timely: at the start, Medway sits in a bar in the Ivory Coast and reads the latest details of a rebel-led war in neighboring Liberia. Those rebels have something to do with a series of murders, beatings, robberies and other assorted acts of mayhem that dog the resilient, alcohol-soaked Englishman as he tries to stay alive. "I do jobs for people who don't want to do the jobs themselves," Medway explains to a very large porno dealer, Fat Paul, who hires him to deliver a video and soon becomes one of the many violated corpses in Bruce's wake. Best known for his Gold Dagger–winning A Small Death in Lisbon , Wilson writes concisely but poetically about a callously brutal side of African life that might shock readers lulled by the sweetness of Alexander McCall Smith's stories about Botswana. But Medway's bloody misadventures, as he tries to protect a pampered diamond dealer from having his stones and his body parts ripped off by corrupt police and other villains, ring with a dark, sad credibility of their own. And Wilson also pulls off the surprising feat of making us see just what it is about life in West Africa that keeps Medway from giving it up to return to England or to follow his lost lover to Berlin. (Nov. 3)

Forecast: Wilson isn't about to rival Alexander McCall Smith in the African mystery market, but Graham Greene fans stateside ought to start taking him seriously just as fans have in Britain.

Reviewed on: 10/06/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 381 pages - 978-0-00-647986-4
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0626-6
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-547-53747-4
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