Written by Nick Stone — PI Max Mingus has settled into his routine of investigating cheating spouses when what would usually be a fairly standard case turns decidedly not-so-standard. However, that case takes a swift back seat when Max gets a call from his old partner, Joe Linton, who’s at a murder scene of a man who was a father figure for Max. Eldon Burns was shot in the face in the ruins of the boxing gym he still owns, and Joe wants Max’s help to find the killer.
Joe and Max have a long history together, as did Max and Eldon, but Joe has never been fond of Eldon and what he stood for, which was the bad old days of corruption in Miami law enforcement. Max was part of it too, but that was a lifetime ago. Joe isn’t one to cut corners in his investigations, however, and in spite of his dislike of Burns he’s determined to solve this and not allow the higher ups to sweep it under the rug.
Soon, tragedy strikes again, right in front of Max, and in the most personal way. Max is determined to find a killer roaming the streets of Miami who seems to be gunning for certain people. The name Vanetta Brown keeps coming up, and her connection to certain subversive groups is a starting point for Max. A powerful woman with an old vendetta wants to find Vanetta Brown to settle the score, and she enlists Max’s help. Max is starting to suspect that Vanetta isn’t guilty of the crimes that she’s been accused of, but the threat of more prison time is a huge motivator, so he reluctantly makes his way to Cuba, hoping to find his way to Vanetta and, ultimately, the truth. Little does he know that he may be traveling in the shadow of an old foe who is the embodiment of evil.
Voodoo Eyes is the third in a series featuring Max Mingus, preceded by the superb Mr Clarinet and The King of Swords. Those two novels pitted Max against unspeakable terror, and by far the most shudder-inducing villain so far has been Solomon Boukman, who some believe is the earthly incarnation of Baron Samedi, the Voodoo god of death. The King of Swords took place in the 80s, so there’s a significant time jump – more than 25 years-between it and Voodoo Eyes, which takes place in 2008. Max still struggles with his tortured past. As much as he doesn’t want to take this journey, he knows in his heart that it’s his destiny to see it through. Max isn’t perfect – far from it – but the core of good that runs through such a lonely, emotionally weary man shines like a beacon. Just beyond middle age, Max still longs for the glory days of police work, and it’s not hard to draw him back into the game, but at what price? At this rate, it might be his soul.
Nick Stone was born of a Scottish father and Haitian mother and has spent much of his life in Haiti. In Mr Clarinet, he rendered Haiti in blood-soaked brush strokes, while also capturing the human side of a country in turmoil. In Voodoo Eyes, he takes us to Cuba, where old meets new – nothing and no-one are what they seem. You may never looks at Cuba the same way again. The Max Mingus series is one of the best crime thriller series out there, and if you’re a fan of authors like Mo Hayder, they’re must-reads. Creepy and stunningly atmospheric only begins to describe the books, and although poor Max deserves a break I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another installment.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars