The possessor of the eponymous "voodoo eyes" in Nick Stone's exuberant novel is Solomon Boukman, a terrifying figure who utilises black magic to maintain an empire built on fear. Miami private investigator Max Mingus is up against an opponent who has indulged in human sacrifice, and zombified victims using hypnotic means.
While this might give an average gumshoe pause, it's not new territory for formidable (and troubled) Mingus, who has taken on monstrous opponents before – in the two previous books that comprise Stone's trilogy. Stone has put his protagonist through hell, and by the time of this concluding volume, Max is burning with hatred for Boukman, a man he feels is responsible for wrecking his life and happiness. As Max pursues a bloody trail from the upscale apartments of Miami to the hellholes of Castro's Cuba, he's aware of intense scrutiny from a man with a million eyes – a latter-day Moriarty, but one who makes Sherlock Holmes's antagonist look positively cuddly.
Stone's first book, Mr Clarinet, was the recipient of enviable word-of-mouth; the author himself is worth talking about. Born in Cambridge to a renowned father (historian Norman Stone) and Haitian mother, Stone boasts a great-grandfather familiar with voodoo medicine. He spent time in Haiti, and carried a gun when driving to dissuade car-jackers. He also saw some violent moments in that country's bloody history, and was able to parley this into his ambitious, operatic debut. Mingus was hired to track down the son of a moneyed family and encountered the malign Mr Clarinet, whom Haitians believe has been seducing children away from their families. A second novel, less seismic in effect, followed, and we now have the concluding segment.
Stone's father is a celebrated and controversial historian, and it seems that an ability to excoriate the left with relish runs in the family. But Nick Stone's demolition job on Castro's Cuba is no right-wing apologia. Voodoo Eyes casts an equally cold eye on America's intransigence in dealing with its irritating neighbour. With Cuba and the US, Stone is happy to cast a plague on both their houses - though Havana is lovingly, if gamily, rendered. But it's not just the intelligently realised political infrastructure that makes this a highly unusual novel. Nick Stone has written finis to his tormented detective's career with the grandest of flourishes.