19 Jun / Bingo’s Run by James A. Levine
If, like me, you have trouble with accents, dialects, or unfamiliar vernacular, choose audible here. Narrator Peter Macon couldn’t be smoother and clearer: I couldn’t figure out “meejit” on the page, but in Macon’s voice, no problem (turns out I’m just the “eejit” who can’t understand ‘midget,’ egads)!
Bingo Mwolo is that ‘meejit,’ a self-described “growth retard” who looks more like a little boy than his full 15 years. Lest you have any illusions of childish innocence, he’s as streetwise as he has to be to survive on slum streets: he’s seen and experienced far too much death than destruction than anyone ever should.
Being “the greatest runner in Kibera, Nairobi, and probably the world” keeps Bingo ahead of the pack. His speed – and his seeming loyalty – makes him a highly prized asset to Wolf, a powerful drug kingpin. When Bingo witnesses a horrific murder, he’s forced to go into hiding at St. Michael’s Orphanage … which is anything but holy. Father Matthew, its white proprietor, is not exactly a man of God, but he manages to place Bingo with an American woman – a divorced art dealer – who has arrived in Kenya allegedly intending to adopt. Bingo knows he needs to get away from both Wolf and Father Matthew’s surveillance – he’s got a few hidden resources of his own – and the glamorous, mysterious Mrs. Steele just may his ticket to freedom on the other side of the world.
Just who is scamming whom is a twisted, (im)moral tale of desperation, double/triple crosses, and even a little hope. From dirty officials to false gods, from genius artists to con-artists, from murdered mothers to murderous fathers, James A. Levine’s latest is a rollercoaster ride of never knowing who to trust, unreliable narrators notwithstanding. Run is another dire tale of what happens to discarded children: as he did in The Blue Notebook, Levine gives voice to an otherwise invisible child. And Bingo certainly has much he needs to say.
Levine again proves his neverstopping impressive mettle: he’s a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and professor; co-director of Obesity Solutions, a project of Mayo and Arizona State University (where he also professors); the treadmill desk pioneer who is all about NEATly Gruve-ing to keep fit; and once more an internationally bestselling novelist. If nothing else, he surely knows about running – clinics, projects, bodies, and stories, all.