Alex is puzzled by the fact that reggae is never played on the radio in Jamaica. He has also been struck by the visibility of black people in Jamaica, unlike in the US, where black people only appear on TV and the radio in very specific contexts. He comments that a white Jamaican won Miss World, and that she says the Singer is her boyfriend. Americans staying at the hotels are given a “Girl Friday,” a personal servant, which reminds Alex of slavery. He notes that race strongly affects the way people behave in Jamaica.
Alex’s perceptions about Jamaica are both insightful and inane. For example, it is odd that he should find it surprising that black people are so visible in Jamaica, considering it is a majority-black nation. However, as a foreigner he is able to perceive certain things about Jamaica (such as the legacy of slavery) that may be more difficult for Jamaicans themselves to see.
Alex is supposed to be covering the Rolling Stones, but he’s decided to chase a bigger story. He believes the Singer is “up to something and it’s not just the peace concert.” A taxi driver told Alex that he saw the Singer at the horse races with Papa-Lo, so Alex does some research, learning about Papa-Lo and Copenhagen City. He then discovers the Singer was seen afterward with Shotta Sherrif, who he knows runs the PNP-voting Eight Lanes. Alex wonders if the Singer is just trying to make peace, or if something else is going on.
Alex is not the only character in the novel to be suspicious of the Singer. In Kingston, almost everyone seems to be motivated by a selfish desire for power, and thus it is seen as highly suspect to behave altruistically, with no political end goal. Although it appears as though the Singer really is trying to bring peace to Jamaica, nobody believes that this is actually the case.
Alex came on the same flight as Mark Lansing, a rich kid who is making a film about the Smile Jamaica concert. In May, Bill Adler said on TV that there were eleven CIA operatives working in Jamaica, but by June seven had left. The Singer’s house is being guarded by a posse called the Echo Squad. Alex is 27 and wants to prove that he’s not aimless. The general election is in two weeks, and Alex is desperate to break the story of what’s going on in Jamaica. He resolves to go back to the Singer’s house tomorrow.
Alex has a desire to convey the truth of what is happening in Jamaica, but his reasons for doing so seem a little suspect. Not only is he desperate to prove that he is not a tourist and knows the “real” Jamaica, he also seems largely motivated by his own professional ego and desire to show he is making something of his life.