Delroy jumped a little when Brady appeared behind him. “Good Lord Almighty!” Brady said. “Goddamn! Is that Junior Junior?”
“I think so,” Delroy said. “Any idea who the nigger is?”
“What a mess,” Brady said. “Lord, Lordy, Lord, Lord, Jesus. Looky at that. His balls ain’t on him!”
“I see that.” “I think they’re in the nigger’s hand,” Brady said. “You’re right.” Delroy leaned in for a closer look.
“Don’t touch nothing. Don’t touch a gawddamn thing. We got ourselves some kind of crime here. Lordy.”
The book shortlisted for the Booker this year, didn’t pull be in by the title and I didn’t recognise Percival Everett, but what a book! How to start describing it?
The book begins in Money Mississippi, with two gruesome murders in short succession, both related. First there’s Junior Junior found dead by two local policemen Brady and Delroy as described in the opening quote. The “person of colour“, hope I got that right, found in the same room as Junior Junior is clearly well and truly dead, with his head smashed in, both bodies are taken to the local morgue. Soon after the coloured persons body is found to be missing, no longer in the morgue drawer.
Then the book takes on a surreal form when the same corpse is found next to Junior Junior’s brother in law, Wheat’s dead body with Wheat’s “nuts” in his hand. As each of the family and the policemen’s characters are drawn, we find ourselves in a caricature of poor white people in small town Mississippi (or I hope it’s a caricature). From Wheat’s wife, Charlene, known even to her young kids by her CB handle, Hot Mama Yeller to the mortician Rev doctor Fondle addressing a KKK meeting:
We got ourselves a situation white brothers, I’m afraid what we’re looking at is a real nigger uprising two of our own brothers lay dead and the killing nigger is on the goddamn loose.
Then the second layer of the book sets in as 2 MBI agents (yes , Mississippi bureau of investigation), both black are sent to investigate, and are not exactly welcome and the FBI sends a female black agent and together are able to realise that the locals still think it’s the 1930’s.
We are clearly in “Strange Fruit” country where a very old lady has kept a record of the more than 7000 negroes Lynched in the south with less than 1% of the people involved being questioned and much less being convicted, this is proposed by any definition as being a genocide, where the only way to remember them is to keep saying their names.
Then the killings get out of hand as more and more white people are killed. Even Trump has a cameo appearance.
An excellent idea to mix a murder mystery, farce and difficult to swallow facts.
First published in English by Influx Press in 2022