Kingston Noir

A collection of dark stories from Jamaica’s capital city, edited by Colin Channer.

From Ian Thomson’s contribution, ‘A Grave Undertaking’

How my father came to die in Kingston, the unfortunate circumstances of his death there, remains unclear. Was it an accident? Nothing is known for sure. But this much I do know: my parents had gone to Jamaica for a winter vacation, which ended in a mortuary. Air-freighting my father’s body home to New York was an ordeal: few of us expect to die while abroad.

What can I tell you about him?

As a child I had been in awe of my father; daughters often are. His complexion was smooth and pink, his small, near-sighted eyes shone beadily behind horn-rimmed glasses. There was nothing tangible to dislike him for; Jimmy Ruff was my dad. He reviewed books for a living, and I guess he was doing fairly well at it, well enough, at any rate, to make a discreet name for himself at the New York Times. His forte was the savage put-down; any author he considered overrated (or who had simply won a literary prize) was tossed and gored. It took me a while to work out that my father was not a writer after all, but a hack, though you might make it more important by calling him a literary critic.