Max Mingus could be your typical PI with the usual ghosts haunting him. However, Nick Stone has taken the haunted PI character and given him a lot more depth. This book isn’t just about a typical PI charging in like a rampaging elephant and getting the job done with a very high body count. In fact, Max is a very complex man who has seen it all, been there and got the T-shirt. He is the kind of man, who is intent on getting the job done, but knows there is a smarter way of doing things, rather than shooting everything in sight! Only when he sees the injustice of something does he start to resemble an avenging angel. Even then, he is not the kind to get his hands bloodied. He has enough on his hands without adding any more...
This novel, at 561, pages can seem to be a bit of a daunting read. However, Nick Stone’s simple, yet enveloping prose glides you along the story. I really liked Max because he is a truly complex character. It hasn’t been an easy ride for Max Mingus. Certainly some of it is of his own making.
The ‘action’ in Haiti doesn’t really get started until about page 180. Up till then we are getting to know Max intimately whilst also meeting the motley crew of characters that populate this novel. I enjoy learning about the character of a book, but if you want action you’ll have to be patient. Trust me. It is all worth the wait as everything is relevant to the ending of the book.
I really enjoyed this book and would certainly like to meet Max again. I can see Mr. Clarinet vividly on the big screen. I nominate Michael Chiklis to play Max… The story has action, violence and a twist of white and black magic to give it all the right ingredients for a smash hit. Enjoy!
Reviewed by: C. S.
Fresh Blood Questionnaire
1) What type of crime writing would you say you write?
Dark, brooding, introspective, noir-inflected, cliché-capping, morally ambiguous, violent, Graham Greene going to hell in a bucket and whistling Dixie type crime fiction.
2) What type of crime novel do you prefer? Series or standalone?
I like both. I’m probably more in favour of standalone books, because a series is prone to (absolutely necessary) repetition because the author has to explain the same things to new readers book-in, book-out.
3) Have you always had ideas to write a crime novel?
Yes. I started writing my first crime – actually my first ever - novel when I was 12. I had to give up after the sixth chapter because I’d killed everyone off apart from the main character.
4) What influenced you to write a crime novel in the first place?
I tried my hand at “serious” (or “non-genre”) fiction and failed. So I turned to crime.
5) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
6) Would you describe yourself as a Crime fan and if so, which authors do you most admire?
Again, in no order of preference: James Ellroy, Walter Mosley, Charles Willeford, Tim Willocks, Jake Arnott, Mark Billingham, Joseph Wambaugh, Andrew Holmes.
7) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
It’s a tie between The French Connection, To Live & Die In LA, Manhunter and LA Confidential. All four are quite remarkable films, the first two by the same director (William Friedkin).
8) Without giving away the ending, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?
Green River Rising by Tim Willocks.
9) What was it about Max Mingus that attracted you to write about him in the first place? Was he someone you had met or a conglomeration of different people?
I’ve never met anyone like Max, although he does bear a passing resemblance to a former Marine Sergeant I know called Al Diaz. I met him in Haiti where he was stationed.
10) Mr. Clarinet is based in Haiti. What made you decide to place a large part of your novel in what you describe as such a desolate and unforgiving place?
Two reasons – first, you write about what you know, and I know Haiti; and secondly, I’ve never read or heard of any book set in modern day Haiti, let alone a thriller.
11) Where do you see crime fiction going next?
Crime fiction as a genre has barely moved on since Chandler’s time. And the great and dreadful thing about genre fiction is that it is – on the whole - resistant to change. Although I do think that here in the UK, you’re going to see a market developing in ASBO-inspired crime novels. Andrew Holmes’s 64 Clarke touches on this area.