cover image The Fruit Palace

The Fruit Palace

Charles Nicholl. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (307pp) ISBN 978-0-312-30926-8

Sent by his British publisher to Colombia to write an expose of drug trafficking, Nicholl roamed the country, traced a thread of cocaine preparation, sale and export, and was forced to participate in one drug deal himself. Although a full-scale expose did not develop, he has written an in-depth portrait of Colombia and its citizensbar owners, small-time coke dealers, prostitutes, residents of the big cities and the small towns. He writes of the people with warmth and wit, from Julio, the proprietor of a bar called the Fruit Palace, through Waldino, a drug dealer who momentarily considered killing him. Nicholl also writes about legends like that of el dorado, a man, not a place, and offers bits of Colombian history. His approach is light, his book interesting. 40,000 first printing; $40,000 ad/promo; author tour. (May 19)