LONGLISTED FOR THE 2024 JOYCE CAROL OATES PRIZE · A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE · From the award-winning, bestselling author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk comes a brilliant and propulsive new novel about greed, power, and American complicity set in Haiti
"An engrossing, psychologically complex and politically astute novel." —The New York Times
Haiti, 1991. When a violent coup d’état leads to the fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, American expat Matt Amaker is forced to abandon his idyllic, beachfront scuba business. With the rise of a brutal military dictatorship and an international embargo threatening to destroy even the country’s most powerful players, some are looking to gain an advantage in the chaos–and others are just looking to make it through another day.
Desperate for money—and survival—Matt teams up with his best friend and business partner Alix Variel, the adventurous only son of a socially prominent Haitian family. They set their sights on legendary shipwrecks that have been rumored to contain priceless treasures off a remote section of Haiti’s southern coast. Their ambition and exploration of these disastrous wrecks come with a cascade of ill-fated incidents—one that involves Misha, Alix’s erudite sister, who stumbles onto an arms-trafficking ring masquerading as a U.S. government humanitarian aid office, and rookie CIA case officer Audrey O’Donnell, who finds herself doing clandestine work on an assignment that proves to be more difficult and dubious than she could have possibly imagined.
Devil Makes Three’s depiction of blood politics, the machinations of power, and a country in the midst of upheaval is urgently and insistently resonant. This new novel is sure to cement Ben Fountain’s reputation as one of the twenty-first century’s boldest and most perceptive writers.
Fountain's first novel since his bestselling Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a sprawling, fierce exploration of violence and corruption in the Caribbean. In 1991, when Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is deposed by a military junta, American expat Matt Amaker and his Haitian partner, Alix Variel, see their scuba diving tourist business dry up and turn to recovering brass cannons from a shipwrecked conquistador galleon. Alix's occasional lover, Audrey O'Donnell, is an undercover CIA agent helping to expedite the smuggling of arms into the country. Meanwhile, Matt's lover, Misha (who is also Alix's sister), forgoes her education at Brown in order to work as a clerk at an overburdened medical clinic in Port-au-Prince, which is short of drugs due to the American embargo. Matt and Alix are arrested by the new government as terrorists and thrown into jail. But corrupt Gen. Romeo Concers shows Matt a way out by underwriting his dive to locate the remains of Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria. With differing and often conflicting agendas, Matt, Audrey, and Misha end up on a collision course as personal morality collides with political expediency. Through these—and other—well-wrought characters, Fountain dramatically captures the ever-shifting nature of Haitian politics. The result reads like an update of Hemingway's To Have and Have Not, with some of the moral heft of Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise. Readers of international thrillers should pounce.