A boy stares at a storm-swollen Mississippi waiting to hurl himself into the maelstrom of bountiful wreckage. He will know "the instant when courage, purpose and good sense come together ...waiting for the Lord to tell ...when to jump." Thus the kaleidoscopic tale of Jean Perceval Hays begins. Born in 1874 in New Orleans, to a freed mulatto woman and a deserting white father, Percy is unschooled, but meets life's challenges head on, bolster by his spirit's innate intelligence and experienced lessons. A scoundrel by necessity, but a brave man seen in the larger scope, Percy is a man of deep ethics and loyalty to those deserving. In a sleek writing style, we read Percy's adventures - through the swamplands of Louisiana, up river to Tennessee, and then through Texas to the bullrings of Monterrey - where he introduces his heavy handed way of dealing with mean-spirited bulls and experiences his first of many loves. Then it is on to the Caribbean and to an "inherited" stint as captain of a pirate ship. Here he meets Matumbo, a Zulu tribesman, kidnapped by Arab traders, who saves Percy's life, causing Percy and Matumbo to be forever bonded.
In Germany, Percy begins a life long career of smuggling South African diamonds with Matumbo's help. Matumbo then implores Percy to help him procure guns for his tribe to use against the De Beers' agents and British mercenaries who have been raiding and slaughtering his people. Percy now enters a dangerous world with some of the most sophisticated business minds of Europe. Moving to South Africa, Percy joins the Zulu in raids against the De Beers' holding posts, and to aid the Zulu's efforts to obtain independence from South Africa & Rhodesia. Awarded the highest warrior status by the Zulu, Percy becomes Matumbo's brother and protector and receives his own tribal talisman, an event that strongly colors the rest of his life. Running ahead of the law, Percy escapes to Europe and later returns to America where he goes undercover working for Army Intelligence while he continues his fight for the Zulu's independence. The sequence of Percy's adventures is at once, fantastical, but plausible, given the depth of his human spirit. Writer Michael Shure has produced a memorable first novel.
One that compels the reader to breathlessly read on - first in amazement, then in total absorption of this life and the ultimate revelation that Percy, a lowly seeming man, wielding a push broom in a Baltimore pharmacy, could be a person rich beyond imagination. Percy is a hero who made a jewel of his life, leaving a full legacy, through the jewels he "conquered" - outsmarting on many occasions, the voracious De Beer's diamond cartel. Mr. Shure maintains a pace that crescendos to a magnificent finale - one that left this reader heaving with full chest sobs.