Review: Deacon King Kong

Genre: Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
(Content Warning: alcohol and drug addiction)
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.

In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.

As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.


I’m not going to attempt to write a detailed review, because it’s clear that when reading Deacon King Kong I was in WAY over my head. I struggle with literary fiction even in the best of times, but I think with all the stress I’m currently under regarding unknowns at work and Covid I had an especially hard time just concentrating on what I was reading. So at times I LOVED this book, and at other times felt bored out of my mind.

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