Monday, April 30, 2007

Thieves' Paradise, by Eric Jerome Dickey

This book also comes from the Alachua County Public Library, was on 12 CDs, 12 hours and 30 minutes long, and narrated by Bill Andrew Quinn. I plucked this one off the shelf because I recognized the author's name, and I knew I had never read him.

At 25 years old, Dante Brown has no family, no job, and plenty of baggage. He did a long stretch in juvenile hall as a teenager after he pulled a gun on his abusive father, who was also a police officer. Both parents are now dead, and his luck has been more down than up. While waiting for a new employer to call him, Dante falls back on the safety net offered by Scamz, a slick con-man who provides short term employment for the entire black community at one time or another. At least it seems that way in this story.

I found this story rather disturbing because it looks like every black person with a legitimate job only serves as an undercover asset for Scamz: stealing credit card information, acting as a courier for stolen plastic, assisting in real-estate swindles. And every woman is a snake. They are either trying to tag some innocent dupe to be the daddy of someone else's child, stepping out on the dupe, or doing anything for money. If I had written this, I could expect to see my face on Fox News right next to Reverend Al's talking head.

If this is just an "authentic novel about black culture", it's a serious downer. I find it hard to believe that every African-American is on retainer for an ad hoc firm of grifters. I don't know anyone like this. Or maybe I do and I just don't know it.

A very sad story well-written, for which I cannot forgive its infectious negativity. It gets 2 ambivalent stars.

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