Bartender Shad Myers doesn't just listen to the troubles that tourists and locals bring into his thatch-roofed bar -- he sets out to fix them himself, no matter the risk.
The troubles that find Shad in Gillian Royes' novel "The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks" seem better suited to pastors and law enforcement authorities. Plans to develop a new beachfront hotel in his tiny Largo Bay, a village on Jamaica's northern shore, get muddled in a love triangle that feeds long-simmering bigotry toward gay people.
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"The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks"By Gillian Royes
Atria Books, 464 pages, $16
But Largo Bay is too small to have its own police force, and the pastor's morals are questionable, so it's up to the bartender to hunt down the mysterious group whose increasingly violent tactics threaten to derail the hotel project, along with Shad's dreams for his hurricane-stricken hometown.
"The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks" is Royes' second crime drama starring Shad. Since Shad is only an "unofficial sheriff," as he thinks of himself, Royes is freed from the police procedural formulas that can weigh down some mystery novels. Instead, the Jamaica-born writer explores Shad's sense of hustle -- the drive required to do more than just get by in an impoverished community dependent on the Caribbean island's tourist economy.
Royes' Jamaica is lush, stormy and stronger than the rum punch cocktails that Shad pours over ice.