As I descend further into dad-hood, I find myself being more patient for longer books and movies. I mean, I recently sat through 3:15 of Barry Lyndon and loved almost every minute of it. So I figured it was finally time to tackle this one, a book which I must’ve started three or four times only to put off due to its length and a lack of patience trying to understand the Jamaican patois.
Better late than never ’cause this book is great.
I’m finding more and more that I have a yen for these multi-generational sweeping crime epics. James Ellroy is the master of them; Jake Arnott does some good London-based ones. I have to discover more. This book is the format almost mastered.
It’s about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley but not really, if that contradiction makes any sense. Marley’s life (and eventual spirit) loom large over everything but, as the Jamaicans cynically observe, it’s the only thing that makes them relevant to the world. What makes them relevant to America is the need to quash a potential Communist insurgency a mere puddle-jumping flight away from Florida and a boat ride to Cuba. Thus, through machinations in and around the attempt on Marley’s life, we meet people caught up in the swirl of drug money, CIA ratf-cking, and local ennui.
I was worried the book was going to lose steam, and it does in spots, but it never loses sight of the characters caught up in the game and, despite its many tangents, it keeps rocking to the final page.
It’s definitely a flawed masterpiece: the gay characters are problematic to say the least and the one main female character, while having an intriguing story, is still the lone female character in a testosterone-dominant story. But I prefer to linger on masterpiece instead of flawed. This met the hype. I don’t know that I’d recommend it to many but if you have the patience for it, you won’t be disappointed.