The Bridge


By Solomon Jones
Publisher: St. Martin’s Minotaur
ISBN: 0312306156


The disappearance of a well-loved ten-year old girl is the backdrop for murder, melee and bedlam in a Philadelphia housing project called “The Bridge” by Solomon Jones.   

The story begins with Kevin Lynch, a hot-shot Philadelphia detective forced to confront his demons by returning to the projects from which he emerged to find the missing, adored ten-year old Kenya Brown.  Kenya (everyone’s hope and promise for goodness) has disappeared in the muck and mire of a Philadelphia housing project, The Bridge, riddled in the despair of drugs, bloodshed and sacrilege.

Lynch, a survivor of The Bridge is drawn back into pandemonium when he receives a call informing him that Tyrone’s daughter (Lynch’s childhood best friend) has been abducted and possibly killed.  Despite the fact that Kenya is not Tyrone’s biological daughter, it was common knowledge that Tyrone loved Kenya as if she were his own.  That fact along with Lynch feeling partially responsible for Tyrone’s death some years prior is more than enough to passionately propel the detective into action.  Thus, Lynch agrees to search for the little girl whose life has been shrouded in deceit and abuse from birth.    

On a race with time, Lynch along with Kenya’s recovering crack addicted mother, Daneen return to The Bridge to question anyone who may be connected with this crime.  Here the reader gets a look into the horrific and dysfunctional lives of several suspects.  First we have Judy Brown.  Judy raised Daneen and her brother Darnell often paying more attention to her growing crack trade than Judy’s bequeathed responsibilities.  Prior to her abduction, Judy had sole custody of Kenya raising her in the same bedlam in which she raised Daneen and Darnell.  Openly and without remorse, Judy exposed the children to her drug trade and became Daneen and Darnell’s major supplier of crack cocaine.  And if Judy felt her jealous fits arise she often took her frustration out on Kenya by physically abusing her with closed fists for which Kenya could not defend herself. 

It is with Judy that we get the last glimpse of Kenya’s voice. Judy along with her king-pin boyfriend Sonny runs The Bridge’s most lucrative crack house out of their apartment.  Sonny’s penchant for little girls is well known in The Bridge neighborhood.  Due to other un-related crimes and motives, Sonny and Judy flee leaving a menacing trail of destruction that threatens to overshadow the little girl lost tragedy.  That is until Lynch enlists the help of Detective Wilson, a juvenile aid officer and empathetic mother who out of her own despair vows to help locate Kenya and the party responsible for this hate-filled crime.

With onionskin layers, Solomon Jones unravels sordid details about an often forgotten people’s past attempting to explain their present and ultimately their futures exposing a cycle of crime in the inner city.  Vividly the author describes the scenes of this story so prominently that the reader is actually present with characters on the beaten paths of Philadelphia’s mean streets and political tirades.  And while this tale leaned heavily upon the elements of a mystery, it was an intelligent and poignant read from an author focusing attention on a critical nationwide crisis with a profound respect for structure, style and the beauty of the English language.

Toni Staton Harris is the author of the mainstream fiction novel By Chance or Choice and the soon to be released fiction novel, Nothing Special…Just Friends.  She resides in Newark, New Jersey with her husband.

A Review by Toni Staton Harris