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8496: White Darkness review
Wednesday, June 20, 2001
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BOOKS | THRILLERS
A thriller set in Haiti and Brooklyn uses violence deftly
What does Haiti have to do with Brooklyn? A lot, in the intriguingly violent
White Darkness by Steven D. Salinger (Crown, $24).
It's a starry night in Haiti as Col. Ferray climbs a hill to the Dalwani
house, elegant home to a father, mother and three daughters. The colonel
guesses how old each girl is and notes their "lustrous hair, delicate bones,
and sorrowful, dark-rimmed eyes."
A social call? In a book with that provocative title?
Considering the girls, the colonel "doubted that his men would appreciate
such refinements." Mr. Dalwani, foreseeing disaster, offers his maid,
whispering: "Force her to do things." He bribes the colonel with jewelry,
including his wife's diamond ring.
Salinger leaves the inevitable violence to your imagination, but be warned:
Later on in his chiller-thriller he doesn't.
Jump-cut to Brooklyn. Moe Rosen is about to open his jewelry store when he
notices Miz Ark in front of her Haitian restaurant. He also sees a black man
eyeing him and then attacking Miz Ark, knocking her down and kicking her. Moe
charges the creep and saves the woman. So begins a fascinating relationship
between a Haitian and an American.
Jump-cut back to Haiti and young Fabrice's X-rated relationship with a
wealthy woman. Guess who makes a violent house call? Fabrice escapes and -
well, you'll anticipate where he ends up but not how he gets there.
I've saved the book's most mesmerizing player for last: Voodoo.
Salinger is very good at balancing character and plot points. And he knows
precisely when to let violence take center stage and benumb you. Don't start
reading this one too late at night. You might speed through a sleep zone.