- 12 tortured bodies are discovered in a Senegalese fishing boat in Cape Verde.
- Murder investigation uncovers corruption and drug gangs.
‘Other American Dreams’ by Sérgio F. Monteiro debuts when the world’s media is flooded with images of desperate migrants arriving in overcrowded boats on Europe’s shores in search of better opportunities and a safe haven.
Set on idyllic islands off the coast of West Africa, where the slave trade once dominated the economy and life, Cape Verde is again at the heart of human trafficking when a fishing boat turns up with 12 dead African migrants on board.
Investigated by the police in Santiago, Sergeant Abel ”Aranha” Teixeira of the Policia Nacional soon learns he is caught up, centre stage, in a murder investigation steeped in corruption and the transnational drug trade. It’s a case that cuts deeper than he ever imagined.
Committed to bringing closure to the human tragedy the fishing boat created, Aranha is no stranger to the double-dealing and deception that oils the wheels of this former Portuguese colony (1462-1975), where captured African slaves were brought to be traded until the practice was abolished on the islands in 1861.
Aranha is a man with powerful allegiances that run to the very core of Cape Verdean society and a murky past that he had left long behind, or so he thought. The Sergeant knows he has to lead his team of tough plainclothes officers into the battle against corruption, even if it means uncovering his own and facing his deadliest allegiance of all.
Against a backdrop of the emerging gang culture imported into the islands by returning Cape Verdean deportees from the United States, this highly observant author delves into the disintegration of the family unit, a major factor behind the growing crime rate in Cape Verde, as well as in communities across America, and the vital role education and dialogue could play in fixing the strained race-relations that exist in the US today.
America is an old friend to the Cape Verde islands. Their history spans four centuries from the 17th century when American slave traders called on Cape Verde’s ports to buy slaves, to the early 20th century when American whaling ships were routinely crewed by Cape Verdean merchant marines − indeed both of the author’s grandfathers worked on such whaling vessels. The long relationship Cape Verde has shared with America has led to the development of Cape Verdean-American communities, mainly concentrated on the New England coast from Providence, Rhode Island, to New Bedford, Massachusetts. They have become thriving and vibrant communities with strong traditions and involvement in many American Ivy League schools.
Sérgio, who was raised in Washington D.C. and later Hong Kong, says has often felt like an outside observer looking in on the communities he has lived in, including his own. Growing up in the world of international protocol and diplomacy has lent him a unique perspective of geopolitics, foreign policy and race relations, and the awareness that it is human instinct to seek a better life.
“When you have spent your life travelling as a consequence of your family circumstances, wrenching friendships and connections, it becomes easy to take for granted the notion of having roots. I was lucky that every relocation was spurred by my father’s diplomatic postings, but each time we moved it was heartbreaking,” explains the author.
“The migrating men, women and children who put themselves onto fishing boats nowadays are doing it for different reasons, and their motivations are far more heartbreaking than mine.”
This insight is masterfully brought to life in the fast-paced dialogue that propels the plot forwards, mixing truth with reality and fiction based on the author’s experience of Cape Verde, a land of barren rocks where collectively the people are known as the progeny of a fatherland that is Europe and whose mother is Africa.
“There is going to be a shift in the narrative on migrants. Some will be called refugees and their lives will matter more, the others, though they face the same risk, will remain just migrants, and no matter how many of them lose their lives, their stories will never be heard,” Sérgio adds.
- Sabine Borgia, Editor, Marketing & Public Relations
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