Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The Reviews Are In!
(in an interview of Author Suzzy Roche - "Wayward Saints")
"[Kenworthy’s] written such a page-turner."
"Equal parts travelogue, thriller, and theological treatise, Mr. Kenworthy's first book-length work of fiction is a genre-bending tale of sin and redemption. "The Missionary and the Brute" pulls no punches but moves breathlessly between gorgeous descriptions of Tanzinian landscape and customs, a tense story about a serial killer, and the faith-driven, internal dialog of a tormented man. The story is fairly straightforward: 4 days in the life of a man as he assists a visiting American missions team building a school in Tanzinia. Along the way, they encounter everything from fermented bananas to a bushfire to a funeral for a child. Jadwin Ross (also called simply The Missionary) is as flawed a protagonist as you would want, and although the story is largely told from his point of view, there are rarely any times you feel sympathy for him. And that's ok; this book is read best as a psychological horror novel akin to Robert Bloch's "Psycho" or Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." Kudos to Mr. Kenworthy for tackling a difficult subject and complicated character development. I look forward to reading his next novel(s) and watching him grow as a novelist. "
"I'm into my second read through this new work. I missed so many nuances the first time because I just wanted to keep reading through to the end! Surprises throughout, fascinating twists and turns ... one of those smile-one-moment-cringe-the-next stories. I've already purchased three - one for myself and two as library donations for my community. This is a thought-provoking and entertaining read. Highly recommended!THE MISSIONARY AND THE BRUTE "
"Mr. Kenworthy is one of my new favorite authors. With The Missionary and the Brute I was immediately captured by the author's exceptional ability to lead me into a world he's obviously very familiar with, a world of beauty and darkness, mystery and intrigue, heartbreak and triumph. His descriptions of Tanzania, Africa, made me feel as though I'd been transported there. His descriptions of the people make it obvious he is speaking from first-hand experience even though this is a work of fiction. By the end, you are glad it is. By the end, you will be catapulted to a place you never saw coming, never anticipated and will be left positively breathless. I actually needed a moment to recuperate from the shock. Read The Missionary and the Brute for yourself and find a new favorite author in John Kenworthy. "
"What started as a lazy read becomes an overwhelmingly intriguing novel taking place in the daytime darkness of Tanzania. Jadwin Ross, the missionary, is the perfect character to keep you guessing throughout as to his innocence or guilt. Be aware, the on-going battle between good and evil (and in this case predator or prey) is descriptive and violent. This tale is a journey to be taken with a seat belt and maybe a lifeline. It took me 2 days to read the first 50 pages and 1 afternoon to read the last 250. It WILL hook you. Mr. Kenworthy has produced an African horror story that will bring you face-to-face with a beast that is undeniably believable and late-night-in-the-dark frightening. I won this book in a Goodread's giveaway and have added myself to John Kenworthy's reading list."
"The opening of this strange, cold tale set in the heart of sweltering Tanzania is a good one. Missionary Jadwin Ross is being pummeled in a creaky interrogation room, accused of a murder he did not commit. There is hardly a better way to open a book, and it hooked me instantly. Ross, as a character, is very clearly defined. Lusty, apathetic at times, and even mean-spirited, Ross is not your garden variety missionary.
He is in charge of a small village in Tanzania, and a flock of American visitors who range from the stereotypical dress-alike married couple, the mother with a problem goth-daughter, and a beautiful guest named Leah. Ross's peers also include a fellow minister, his beautiful bespectacled daughter Imura, and a misogynistic tour guide named Daud.
Imura and Leah are the best defined of the side characters, and both at times objects of Ross's lust. Daud is also well done, a vicious, sharp tongued sulker who becomes a thorn in Ross's side.
In between the day to day goings on of the characters, the story jumps forward to Ross's ordeal in interrogation. The story shines best with all the little details throughout. The Missionary work, Africa, traditions, local colloquialisms, scents, sounds, heat, sweat, smells, all of it shines through from an author who clearly has mastery of his setting and subject. I found it a personal joy to experience this detailed world I'd never previously put much thought to.
Ross himself, however, is a tricky fellow. A man of God, to be sure, and one dedicated to his work. This is outlined with a constant inner monologue, that, to be honest, got old fast for me. The florid quoting of scripture and lofty sentiments muttered over and over, comparing himself to martyrs and to righteous suffering became quite redundant for me to read.
The man of God lapses and quite often, I might add, into another man, an Earthy lusty fellow at that. A disturbing glimpse of his character is shown in a graphic sex scene where the woman in question is degraded to nothing more than a pliable sex toy to satiate Ross's lust.
The center of this novel is sprinkled with mystery and the specter of death. Nevertheless, it did sag somewhat for me. Although I did appreciate the flash-forward format, I still sometimes felt stifled by some of the pacing and befuddled by Ross's increasingly callous nature. I wanted a character to bond with, and Ross remained fiercely resistant to that, no matter how intriguing I found the plot.
A violent, surreal world spills across the pages in the third act however. Bloody, heart pounding, and heartbreaking, with just the right amount of twist, and with no regard at all for expectations, I found myself nodding and smiling at this brilliant final act. A few of the more "infuriating" points I found in the first two acts were actually cleared up for me with the final act and I am so glad to have stuck with it. "The Missionary and the Brute" is an offbeat, uneven thriller but the mastery Mr. Kenworthy has over his setting and the brutal confidence he has in presenting Jadwin Ross to the reader makes this a bizarre, deadly little read"