French West Africa is the setting for Robert Wilson's second Bruce Medway novel, The Big Killing. Medway is a freelance "fixer," a man familiar with the vagaries of business and politics in the stretch of coastal West Africa between Benin and the Ivory Coast. Almost out of money, Medway reluctantly accepts an assignment to deliver a video for a shady local pornographer. The delivery, which should have been routine, goes very badly, culminating in the death of a courier and the discovery of a mutilated body; voodoo overtones abound. From here on, the situation spirals steadily downward, with little or no relief in sight. Wilson's voice is unique among current mystery novelists. He certainly employs several of the time-honored conventions: the first-person narrative, the world-weary worldview, the hard-boiled protagonist. Nonetheless, his work stands, if not above the crowd, then certainly well to the side of it. If the recently departed (and sorely missed) singer/songwriter Warren Zevon had written novels, I suspect they would have been along the lines of The Big Killing.
Bruce Tierney is a Nashville-based writer who was weaned on the Hardy Boys.