Miami, 1981. When Detective Max Mingus and his partner Joe are called to the scene of a death at Miami's Primate Park, it looks like another routine — if slightly bizarre — investigation. Until two things turn up: the victim's family, slaughtered; and a partly digested tarot card in the dead man's stomach. The King of Swords.
An increasingly bloody trail leads Max and Joe first to a sinister fortune-teller and her scheming pimp son, then to the infamous Solomon Boukman. Few have ever met the most feared criminal in Miami, but rumours abound of a forked tongue, voodoo ceremonies and friends in very high places.
Against a backdrop of black magic and police corruption, Max and Joe must distinguish the good guys from the bad - and track down some answers. What is the significance of the King of Swords? What makes those who have swallowed the card go on a killing spree just before they die? And can Max find out the truth about Solomon Boukman, before death's shadow reaches his own front door...?
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Such was the acclaim that greeted Nick Stone’s amazing debut novel, Mr Clarinet, that a curious syndrome soon developed: if you hadn’t read the novel (and claimed to have any interest in the crime genre), you had to say (to all who would listen) ’I really must read Mr Clarinet -- I’ve heard so much about it!’ (preferably said with a pronounced guilty note in the voice). Such people, of course, should do themselves a favour and actually read the book – the sprawling, ambitious Haiti-set phantasmagoria broke new ground in several provocative ways for the crime field. It also introduced troubled detective Max Mingus – a vividly drawn protagonist -- and now here’s King of Swords, not so much a sequel to the debut novel, as a prequel with Max Mingus in his first terrifying encounter with his sinister nemesis Solomon Boukman.
So… the biq question: has Nick Stone matched that jaw-dropping debut?
Initially, this seems a very different kind of book – the setting is the more familiar Miami rather than a surrealistically realised Haiti. But -- relax – this is just as strong and disturbing a book as Mr Clarinet. In fact, those seeking a comfortable read should steer well clear – but if you’re looking for rough-edged crime fiction that will seriously unsettle you (and many of us seek exactly that), then King of Swords does the business -- look no further. And now -- how long do we have to wait for the third Nick Stone novel? --Barry ForshawReview:
Rivals some of the greats of the thriller genre ( Daily Express )
'The search for the next 'big thing' in the literary world is a dangerous business, but we think we may have just found him in Nick Stone' Observer
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Book Description Penguin, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0141021071