Published by Blasted Heath
Two dead cops. Two Somali boys on the run. A grieving father searching for his son. A grieving lover seeking revenge.
From Fargoesque, wintry beginnings in Minnesota this becomes a tale of heated ideologies in war-torn Somalia, where there’s not much humour, dark or otherwise. Anthony Neil Smith treads a fine line as he weaves tales from two continents, but, with the few inevitable wobbles while walking a high-wire, tread it he does. Ray Bleecker isn’t a ‘good cop’ or a ‘bad cop’ but a washed out has-been of a man failing at life and seemingly only energised into existence by the death of his pregnant girlfriend. Adem and Jabril are two young men hunting meaning and purpose: Jabril is sucked into the heady, deliciousness of his authority while Adem struggles to align his ideals with his survival. The novel is laced with truly horrifying scenes: a stoning, beheadings, shootings, drawing and quartering, acid attacks... Here are men seeking power via threatening and violent control, and a woman chillingly enthralled to educated reasoning of her beliefs. The complexities of faith and fear and ignorance are stitched into the narrative. It excels in submerging the reader completely in the world of the terrorists where business transactions and bloodshed are one and the same, and apathy towards rigorous thought is a skill. There are difficult questions here about loyalty, heritage, faith, and morality, but, in what could have become an epic sprawl of a book, Anthony Neil Smith zones in on different men searching for significance and honour in leadership, whether achieved through fatherhood, gun-toting, or life-and-death negotiation.
Repulsively compelling. Try to ignore the (many) typos.