Bruce Medway, go-between and fixer for traders in steamy West Africa, smells trouble immediately when he is approached by a porn merchant to deliver a video at a secret rendezvous. This is the second novel featuring Bruce Medway.
Diamonds are the source of intrigue, theft and murder, providing profit that allows the importation of weapons in an ongoing battle for tribal ascendance. There is a longstanding system of mass murder by one so-called "legitimate" government after another, backed by various interests to assert control over an area too rich to escape notice. The cost in lives hardly matters to these players, because this population is expendable and self-perpetuating. Scores of bodies accrue, a testament of man's inhumanity to man, the numbers so outrageous that they beg believability. Still the violence continues unabated.
Bruce Medway makes his living as a fixer, a man willing to do "bits of business, management, organization, negotiations, transactions and debt collection". He won't involve himself in anything criminal or domestic, finding such things too quickly out of control. When a stranger asks Medway to do a quick job, a drop, it will spell the end of Bruce's financial woes and allow him to pay off his current debt. Either from stubbornness or hubris, Medway agrees to get involved, even though his intuition is screaming a warning against this venture. This one bad decision begets a series of confrontations that are ever more complicated and violent, where one intention obscures another and things grow more dangerous by the hour. The bodies pile up as quickly as the introduction of nefarious characters with hidden agendas, while Medway hops from one brush with death to another, never quite able to catch his breath. His small islands of respite are the nightmare-riddled dreams of alcohol-induced sleep.
Wilson is a master craftsman, a talented storyteller who reads like Robert Stone, combining radical themes, blending a seamless plot that doesn't compromise or disappoint. From the decadent porn purveyors to diamond smugglers, arms merchants to corrupt police officials, Wilson creates a range of characters from thin air, sending them spiraling into the killing fields of a war-torn and criminalized Africa.
Against this dramatic and violent background, Wilson writes with a moral clarity of the intense struggle of a continent made dark by the interminable abuses of exploiters. This is political-mystery/fiction at its most powerful, pointing the reader toward awareness of the brutal reality that is Africa today, the indiscriminate use of power, the pillaging of natural resources and the political ascendancy of particular agendas. Once you start, be prepared to keep reading to the final pages. I did and when I was finished, Wilson gained another enthusiastic fan. Luan Gaines/ 2003.