Former gang banger and prison assassin turned civilian and gardener for the rich , Ishmael Toffee doesn't get the opportunity to live life on the outside for long before his talents are called upon. This time round, it's not some gang beef that has him reaching for his blood encrusted tradition, rather, 6yr old Cindy, the victim of a father who loves his daughter in all the inappropriate ways.
This is a powerful novella. It's noir filled with heart-warming and heartbreaking moments. Ishmael and Cindy are beautifully written, their connection hard to miss, their shared struggle sure to consume the reader throughout. Author Roger Smith manages to capture the hearts and mind of his readers in a tightly bundled package and never fails to hold them until the last word is read.
With the central character being a seemingly reformed ex-con, and the home of a rich South African man the place-setting, this had the hallmarks of a typical bad guy goes bad again yet Smith delivers an emotionally gripping tale that deals with sexual abuse, kindness, typecasts, poverty, and deep characterisation many would struggle to achieve in longer formats. Essential reading. 5 stars.
This was my first read by Roger Smith and wont be the last.