AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN
Winner of the Jhalak Prize for the best book written by a UK-based author of colour, Jacob Ross’s crime novel The Bone Readers has received ecstatic praise from readers and reviewers, including Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo. Ross was born in Grenada, and set this, his first crime novel and part of a planned trilogy, on the Caribbean island of Camaho (an alternative name for Grenada).
I’m not big on crime fiction, but our book club chose this book for one of our recent reads. It provided me with useful blog-fodder (given I’m trying to cover reads – as well as art, music, film and TV – from every country for which it is available). I know my fellow book clubbers and plenty of other people can’t get enough of crime fiction. Apparently people find the genre cosy, which makes my mind boggle….
The book follows the exploits of Michael “Digger” Digson, who is recruited unwillingly by alcoholic police chief DS Chilman into a team of semi-official, plain clothes homicide investigators after he miraculously identifies those responsible for a boy’s murder in a hastily assembled police line-up.
Digger is haunted by the death of his mother, killed by police during his childhood, apparently with the assent, if not the outright complicity, of his high-ranking police boss father. What Digger lacks in experience he makes up for in unlikely innate forensics skills – the typical renegade cop cliché, transposed to a beautiful Caribbean island, where gorgeous women seem to fall at Digger’s feet.
He receives some training abroad, then returns to the squad in the Caribbean. The mysterious Miss Stanslaus is soon recruited to the force, and she and Digger get swept up in well-concealed crimes and shocking secrets. I found the Caribbean patois a bit tricky to penetrate at times, but mainly I just don’t enjoy genre fiction and I especially don’t enjoy crime fiction, however great it is reputed to be.