Molly's Reviews

Jungle FeverJungle Fever
Franz L Kessler
Dorrance Publishing Co

Absorbing Read Recommended 4 stars

Book is written in three distinct sections.

First Book Journeys to the Congo It is August 1994 and oiler Raoul Stern is writing a letter to his wife Aliye. His business trip aboard a Boeing 737 is much as any other, a brief landing in Libreville and back to sleep before the plane lands and he is told his visa is not valid and he must leave his passport. Mr Lamira of Lowland Oil drives Raoul to his hotel and it is not long before Raoul meets his boss Tony. The visa is no big deal, just pay a bribe and all will be well. A letter from home, a visit to a meditation bar, Raoul's job assisting Tony with the American Co Califoil, prostitutes, and the knowledge that his wife is unfaithful all leave their mark on Raoul.

Second book Mission Raoul writes letters, keeps a diary, experiences many problems including running low on food, bad moods and malaria.

Book three, Love and Lost Illusions, the Zamba hotel, meeting and letters to a girl named Rosa, and wife Aliye surfaces to offer a chance to rekindle their relationship. It is get rid of Rosa or divorce. Raoul chooses divorce, a dowry basket and marriage to Rosa. Their child Carl is born and while Raoul and his family are in Holland Rosa's brother writes telling of terrible problems at home the family is torn apart, some are missing, dogs feed on corspes of the dead, and the dry season returns to Congo. Raoul's life is turned upside down, but he has a plan.

Long time oil man turned writer Kessler draws on his long experience in the oil industry and his knowledge of Africa to produce a compelling slice of life read. A satisfactory exploit, writer Kessler has shrewdly blended fiction, passion, enigma, machination and jeopardy in this narrative of dying, corruption and devotion. Major Characters presented are full of life and determination, a supporting cast of players round out the book so that the reader will want to read it more than once.

A unusual novel, "Jungle Fever", offers the reader a peek into the turmoil and turmoil rampant on the African continent all through the 1990s. The scalding chemistry depicted between various players make this book a must read. The work deals with serious issues such as those surrounding the unrest rampant in Africa as well as presenting light hearted moments all set against a backdrop of glimpses, resonance and fragrance of a mysterious continent most of us know only from reading, movies or television.

Well done, happy to recommend.

Jamaica BloodJamaica Blood
Franz L Kessler
Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc

Absorbing Read Well Recommended 5 stars

Ten year old Zambo awakens late at night in a hut on a plantation in Jamaica. With his mother Malinda, Uncle Rene and few others the modest group silently set out for freedom from the slave existence they have known on the extensive manor. Not too far away on La Goree Island Geoffrey Pett a trader accountant has come to explore trade opportunities while Daniel Van Lorus is busy dealing for slaves for his family estate. The lives of these men will continue at times parallel, at times criss-crossing and intertwined. The death of Malinda at the behest of a Van Lorus slave dog handler and Uncle Rene at the hands of soldiers shapes Zambo's life to come. Arriving at the refugee sanctuary Bay Of Misery sixteen year old Zambo and fourteen year old Nunu find shelter and the peace they are seeking. Zambo is soon a buccaneer turned pirate as he joins Miguel DelaCorte, The Priest, and other despairing, wretched refugees gathered in the locality. It is not long before the refugees learn escape from slavery of one type or another does not prove to be an end all to the problems facing any of the folk who make their way to the Bay of Misery. The small bands of refugees find they must join forces to fight and live together if any are to survive.

Writer Kessler has captured the sum and substance of the founding of the Island of Jamaica with a keenly honed skill in this complex tale. Kessler's richly drawn story line is excitable, interwoven with conspiracy, intrigue and machination. Characters are vivid, full of life and efficacy. Settings presented are lush in description. Dialogue is gritty and hard-hitting in this powerful, well written portrayal of man's often shocking inhumanity to others. "Jamaica Blood" opens a window for the reader into the coterie of predominance overhanging the pursuit for wealth, commerce syndicate, culture and humanity. Readers are presented with a panorama of the horrendous sacrifice paid from the uncompassionate pursuance of profit leading to slavery, inhumanity and crass motivations.

Life and death, freedom and slavery, injustice and equity are all portrayed with deftness from the pen of talented writer Kessler. Kessler's unsentimental historic perception is filled with penetrating personifications of at times barbarous, self-indulgent landowners poignantly abutting with the simple struggle for basic human rights.

Not for the squeamish, excellent read, happy to recommend.




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2005 by Molly Martin