A brief History of Seven killings by Marlon James

So, the Booker prize winner 2015 finally got an airing on my Kindle (and only because I had it on there from last year and I was somewhere without wifi on holiday so couldn’t download anything else!). And blimey oh Riley, words fail me and then make me swear a lot, with a slightly Jamaican Patois undertone (I won’t though, I don’t want my kids to disown me with embarrassment).

I did try this book last year but very quickly gave up, not just because of the patois but because the first chapter is coming from the viewpoint of a ghost and frankly, I just didn’t have the brain space to deal with that. But clearly being all relaxed on holiday did the job because I picked this up and literally (and I mean, literally) could not put it down. I ignored my family for days at a time (seriously, I had to apologise to the kids at the end of one day because I didn’t say a word for about 6 hours I was so busy reading, not a parenting win, nor a wifely one).

As always, I thought a lot of the process of writing this book, and it came as no surprise that the author had an entire research team and a research grant to enable him to write this, so convoluted are the politics with the CIA, Cuban terrorists, Jamaican gangs, journalists and more all getting involved. I mean, in my naivety, I thought Bob Marley was a friendly, ganja smoking singer who may or may not have had a few girlfriends and I thought I knew about the gangs in Jamaica and the conditions of the ghettos. But, no, no I did not. To say it’s an eye opener is an understatement, if only for the violence alone.

The author has written the book from various different people’s viewpoints, so we get inside the minds of gang leaders, politicians, CIA agents, ex squeezes of Bob Marley and we follow the lead up and the impact of the assassination attempt on Marleys’ life in December 1976. And man, what an impact it had.

This is a hugely insightful read, massively educational, nerve wracking, shocking, painful, sad, heartfelt and at times funny, in a terrible kind of way. It is not a book you can undertake lightly, as it is quite confusing and you have to concentrate, but undertake it you should. Save it for a holiday, when you have time and energy, but believe me, it’s a book you’ll be glad to have read.

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