Review: The Only Cafe – Linden McIntyre

4 of 5 stars
Published 2017

Pierre Cormier, a Lebanese native who immigrated to in Nova Scotia in 1982 disappeared, presumed dead  5 years ago when his boat exploded. He was finally declared dead and his son, Cyril, starts to unravel the secrets that his father kept about his past.  His father wanted his life celebrated with a roast at an out of the way pub called The Only Cafe. The only non-familiar name on the provided guest list is Ari, a regular at the pub. As Cyril begins to delve into the past of the man he never knew well, we also find out about Peter from flashbacks to Peter’s life, to traumatic events in Lebanon during wartime in the 70s and 80s and to the early millennium where “current” events in Peter’s life start to trigger long repressed memories of those events. Cyril is working for a national news network and his personal investigation may have ties to an ongoing one at work.

Who is Ari? Did Pierre and Ari know each other back in the day? Ari plays things very close to his chest as does Pierre but they have similar shared experiences. There are truths and a lot of lies and a very tangled web. Cyril might find out more than he expected or nothing at all, not really. The ending is as murky as the politics which is probably the point. It’s more important to accept what’s happened and move on, once you get to that understanding.

Linden McIntyre is an excellent writer who builds a world and weaves a plot with skill. His plots are dramatic and his characters jump off the pages. They are real and they are intriguing and the plot points build up and are revealed at just the right speed. You keep coming back for more. The most interesting parts of the book, for me, were those from Pierre’s point of view, telling his story and experiences in the civil war in Lebanon. Not very uplifting but some of the events are based on actual ones which lends a touch of reality, grounding the plot a bit more.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC


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