Sandie K, Reviewer
The year is 2008 and the location is Haiti. The narrator is a journalist who is temporarily living there with his wife. He looks around for other Americans to pass time with and he meets Terry White. Terry is a former policeman, a homicide detective from Florida. He and his wife, Kay, suffered financial issues in the downturn of 2008 and he has signed up with the United Nations peacekeeping force, composed of security professionals from around the globe who are in Haiti to keep the peace during troubled times and to teach the Haitian policemen their techniques. Terry isn't thrilled to be there. He is living alone, with Kay coming down for periodic visits. He ends up becoming pretty much a permanent bodyguard to a local judge who was educated in the United States. Johel Celestin has a little influence as a local judge but he longs to do more for his countrymen. He has a vision of building a road from the capital to his impoverished area. There is almost no trade and fresh food is difficult to come by without a reliable means of transportation. It depresses the economy as farmers can't raise crops they have no way of transporting to sell, nor can fishermen make a living. He decides in order to get his road built he will run for the office of Senateur. The current occupant of the position, Maxim Bayard, is old and Johel senses he might be able to be defeated. Political campaigns are not easy in Haiti. The voting process is full of corruption with voters often selling their votes to both sides. Many just sign in at the voting place and leave a blank ballot for the poll workers to fill out. There are influential men who can promise entire villages to be counted for one side or the other. Can a newcomer fight against this established dominance? Even worse than the political fight Johel is in, he has a more personal issue. Terry White has fallen in love with his wife, Nadia, and they are having an affair. The journalist observes all these conflicts and watches to see what the outcome will be. Mischa Berlinski's acute observations of personal and political conflict read like the headlines from the latest edition of the newspaper. He immerses the reader in a world most have never considered and finds a way to make this political contest in a remote area relevant. He explores the relationship between men and women and between men with their friends and the sudden explosions that can occur when lust and love come between them. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.