cover image The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks

The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks

Gillian Royes. Atria, $15 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2743-5

Royes’s strong sequel to her fiction debut, 2011’s The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, deepens the character of Shad Myers, bartender by trade, investigator by vocation, and unofficial sheriff of the small Jamaican village of Largo Bay. Shad’s employer, Eric Keller, plans to build a new hotel and wants Shad to be a partner. Eric’s grown son, Joseph, is coming to Jamaica from the U.S. to write the business proposal, but Joseph’s reputation as a “batty boy” (e.g., a homosexual) from a visit 11 years earlier is still vivid. Shad attempts to halt the rumors, because in Jamaica to be gay is “to court death.” A cast of fully realized characters provide a colorful spectrum of relationships, while an undercurrent of suspicion and hostility threatens to derail the hotel that would mean so much to the village. Shad’s idea of a hero (“he don’t pull people down—he lifts them up”) is demonstrated in many ways, small and large, in this sensitive, thought-provoking novel. (Dec.)