British novelist Nick Stone penned his debut, "Mr. Clarinet," in 2006; it is the first of his Max Mingus series. The noirish, supernatural thriller -- set in Haiti -- revolves around a Miami-based private detective searching for a missing child at the behest of a local billionaire. Will Stone's hero be able to wrest the child away from the dark spirits of the night? Critics have raved about this hard-boiled novel, evoking the likes of the legendary Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett when praising Stone's dark, sinewy prose.
When P.I. Max Mingus takes a call from Haitian billionaire Allain Carver, he doesn't quite understand what he's getting himself into. Carver commissions Mingus to find his son, Charlie, who vanished from his mansion more than three years prior on his third birthday. Mingus takes on the case -- despite the ugly fate that befell Carver's previous P.I.s -- in exchange for $10 million dollars.
A Broken Man
Mingus -- who has just been released from prison -- has a few dark secrets of his own. The ex-police officer spent years in New York's infamous Rikers Island prison, doing time for killing three serial killers. Right before Mingus was released from prison, his wife, Sandra, was killed in a horrific car crash. The protagonist feels unafraid of death; the $10 million paycheck only sweetens the deal for this hollow, wounded soul.
The Legend of "Mr. Clarinet"
After visiting with several of the previous detectives on the case -- including the sleazy Clyde Beeson -- Mingus begins to realize that he is dealing with a supernatural force. He hears stories about a mysterious figure named Mr. Tonton Clarinet, who supposedly has lured away dozens of children with his voodoo powers. His search for knowledge about this dark legend leads him down many dark alleys and forgotten corners of Haiti. Will he be able to bring Charlie back?
Mingus consults with a psychic, who tells him that the child is still alive. But in this strange country, Mingus knows that there are worse fates than death. It turns out that the real story behind Charlie's disappearance is equally as sinister as the Mr. Clarinet myth, but a whole lot less supernatural. The real story involves a predatory group that kidnaps children to satisfy the sexual desires of rich pedophiles. By the time you get to the end of this fascinating, overstuffed read, you will be just as tired as our weary detective.