I bought this after watching an old repeat of Alan Whicker's documentary on Haiti. Whicker's World - Vol. 1 [DVD
] He asked Papa Doc (the dictator of Haiti) what he thought of Greene's book as it casts an "honest" on-the-ground eye on the Tontons Macoute (who were notorious for wearing their black impenetrable shades) and his answer was characteristically evasive. I read the book in a day, it's a cracking page-turner. Mr Brown comes back to Haiti to inherit his estranged mother's hotel. It turns out she wasn't the woman he thought she was, she'd worked with the French resistance for instance. As the book unfolds, the apparent "blows-with-the-wind" Mr Brown is blown away as he mixes himself up in intrigue, hiding suicides, his affair with the diplomat's wife. All this set to the backdrop of fear, road blocks, and every day violence.
We also meet Mrs Smith, who's husband ran for vegetarianism against Truman in the elections, and to reflect her puffed up self-elated position: "Mrs Smith was dressed in a kind of old colonial nightgown and her hair done up in metal rollers which gave her an oddly cubist air".
The book opens with the main characters on a boat heading to Haiti, the way Greene establishes the main protagonists is spot on, each is introduced to us simply through Mr Brown's opinion of each, all to the lolling of the boat as they slowly approach the Island. The tense expectation of Papa Doc's regime looms as the boat docks into harbour.
Lots of humour in the book too, as is typical of Greene: "He seemed to swing from wall to wall on ropes of laughter".
and something I can quite easily associate with (maybe too easily!):
"I flung myself into pleasure like a suicide on a pavement"
Go read it