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Benjamin, My Son

Written by Jeremy Taylor for Caribbean Beat on no date provided

Geoffrey Philp's thriller is set mainly in the ugly underworld of Kingston. Jason, a Jamaican working in Miami as a telemarketer (i.e. scam artist), returns to Kingston after the murder of his stepfather, a prominent politician. As he tries to find out what happened, he is sucked into a world of gunmen and no-go garrisons, brutalities and betrayals.

He comes out of it all just about alive, thanks mostly to his one-time mentor, seer, and truthsayer Papa Legba, an old Rasta man who turns up mysteriously at every crisis. By the last page, Jason is learning to leave his own lies and betrayals behind, to stop running and see who his real friends are.

Like his hero, Geoffrey Philp is a Miami-based Jamaican. He has already published poetry and short stories; this is his first novel, and it is a good chilling read. The chill comes not only from Jason’s mythic quest, but from the way the ghetto reaches out to strangle barricaded wealth, crumbling urban institutions, and the fantasies of politicians who 'want to run the country [while] them cyaan run them own car'.

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