The call of the Clarinet

Nick Stone’s debut thriller MR CLARINET has been getting a ton of attention, and now that it’s finally out in the UK, Bookmunch’s Peter Wild catches up with the author and gets the dirt about the book, why its Haitian setting is so important, and Stone’s connection to Baby Doc Duvalier:

My great uncle Fritz was Papa Doc Duvalier’s first finance minister. He

also helped him during his one and only Presidential campaign in the

southern part of Haiti. As finance minister, one of his jobs was to set

up a series of bank accounts for the Duvalier family in Switzerland.

Papa Doc later imprisoned him for embezzlement, which was something of

a joke considering the amount of foreign aid Doc was already siphoning

off and sending to Zurich.

My great aunt Therese was Papa Doc’s PA. He was, of course – and

possibly literally – the boss from hell. She was terrified of him, but

couldn’t leave because he’d have had her and her family killed. During

the last few years of his reign she took to going to work with a Bible,

a bottle of holy water and a small .22 calibre automatic in her

handbag. The first two were to ward off evil spirits, the latter for

herself, in case they overwhelmed he. She told he that Papa Doc had a

room in the Presidential Palace (a striking all white building in

Port-Au-Prince) blacked out and painted red from floor to ceiling. He’d

sit at the head of a long conference table with all of his main

henchmen sitting either side. She’d gone in there once to tell him

something and had seen the head of one of Doc’s enemies sitting right

in the middle of the table. Nobody said a word, just looked at her and

kept on staring. She quickly left.

Therese’s husband Frank was head of customs during both Papa and

Baby Doc’s time. He was questioned by both the CIA and FBI about his

knowledge of the highly successful cocaine smuggling operation Baby

Doc’s father in law was running in and out of Miami. He’d bought Air

Haiti, the country’s only airline – used only for freight – and turned

it into Air Cocaine, by filling every plane with Cali Cartel nose candy

and sending them to Miami. He also had some Eastern Airlines staff on

his payroll too, and was using their planes to smuggle drugs into Miami

too. My uncle knew nothing about this and only found out about it over

a two week long interrogation. I asked him if he’d been tortured and he

told me that he had: “They woke me up every day by playing Reo


Look for a prequel to MR CLARINET soon, and eventually, a sequel somewhere down the line…