American cities and culture have been dissected by Tom Wolfe before but in Back To Blood he takes his scalpel like prose to Miami and its melting pot of culture, creed and beliefs. It has a mixed array of character but central to the plot are Nestor, a Cuban descended Miami cop and Magdelena his girlfriend, also from the same part of Miami (Mee-Ah-mee). The story takes in Art, Psychology, Journalism and much more. It starts with Nestor stopping a Cuban exile making land and rolls from there.
Tom Wolfe has always used his wit and humour to shine a light on the eccentricities and absurdities or modern day America. This is no different. His use of language exactly as spoken can irritate (see the title of this review as an example). Previously I have loved that style but it did seem to get in the way occasionally this time. It is a long book and it took me a while to get through it. Its not one of his best, Man in Full or Bonfire of the Vanities for me are his best. I think it does lose pace occasionally and its plot stumbles a little in the middle. I also think that when we start looking at how a beat cops actions are discussed by the mayor and chief of police I was reminded of The Wire. Perhaps that is a good thing. Wolfe has always drawn a city out through its denizens to its largest characters and I suppose that has probably influenced The Wire and maybe that series has now taken this approach to its fullest extent.
Back to Blood is enjoyable but not Wolfe's most memorable novel. If you have liked his previous efforts there is enough here to admire and enjoy. Newcomers to Wolfe should probably start with earlier work, like the aforementioned titles. This effort is worthwhile but in their shadows.