Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: 'Jamaican Gangsters & American Thugs' by J.S. Lewis

The very handsome Jamaican author J. S. Lewis is very rapidly becoming a notable figure on the stage of new literature. His magnanimous personality flows not only through his Internet postings but also through the pages of his books. One of the first things new readers to his output (and admittedly this reviewer is one of those) are immediately drawn to is the magnetic flow of his line of developing characters and involving issues and historical references. Seamlessly he takes us on a journey - one that lasts far beyond finishing his book, so indelible are the characters he molds. He steps onto the stage of new writers with honesty, talent and aplomb.

As we are learning form JS Lewis he brings honesty into his novels with a compelling force. As always, the Preface sets the tone that will grow throughout the book: ‘It seemed oddly inevitable— the final enemy to be defeated was death himself. But how do you reign victorious when even after the most successful battles, death returns, stronger and more formidable than ever? Death was cunning, relentless, and vile. This time, we could never truly win, even if we tried. With a heavy soul, I crushed the piece of, brown, blood stained paper in my palm; the evidence of the incontrovertible truth that Dre didn’t want me to know. Something Kraigie couldn’t keep from me. The reason Aj fled to be with his loved ones, and the reason Dre left to confront his mafia family.’

We meet each of these characters, feel them interact, learn to know their motivations and their roles in this thunderous tale.
Jay’s synopsis is solid and well worth repeating: ‘A very dark and gripping tale of three young men whose lives and destinies have become violently intertwined by the inevitable threads of fate. Jevaughn (Jevaughn Wilson) is the handsome, 22-year-old gay man who dares to fall head over heels for a thug while Dre (Andre Malcolm) is the drop-dead gorgeous thug and nephew of a malevolent, homophobic Jamaican Don, Biggs (William Malcolm) and they both share blood lineage with a very powerful American mafia family. Biggs found out about his protégé nephew's sexual escapades and is furious; he condemns his young lover to the whims of death. Jevaughn barely manages to survive and goes into hiding after a brutal gay bashing and upon finding out what his own uncle did, Dre goes after him and everyone involved. Now, three years later, Biggs only son, Donte (Donte Malcolm) rises to prominence in the Malcolm family and there is one thing he craves more than to conquer the world of business; revenge, against those he deems responsible for his father's death, his once favorite cousin, Dre and his gay lover, Jevaughn Wilson. A vicious and bloody conflict ensues. The family crumbles. Death is omnipresent. The quest for revenge has unintended consequences and no one is safe as Donte and Andre Malcolm are locked in a battle of wills.’

And so the king (or prince!) of gay romance and adventure has done it yet again. And he just gets better and better wit each new novel. Grady Harp, March 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.