This review is long overdue, as I read the book months ago. I also should disclose that I read it mainly because, although I love mysteries, I had met Prakash Dighé through the Dallas, TX writing community and found him to be a very kind man who had lived an interesting life. I wanted to see how that would translate into his story.
I originally gave this novel 3-stars, but as the weeks and months went by after reading it, my mind kept returning to the characters and the setting, and I realized that this debut novel had accomplished more than I first thought. I have since edited my rating to 4-stars.
The book, true to the promotional information, is easy to read. At first I mistook that for a simple story. It is not. Mr Dighé speaks five languages, and wrote this as a non-native speaker for an international audience. And he did a brilliant job of it.
The story is set in Kenya. It includes the urban capital with a vast variety of characters from local police, thugs, and politicians to British expats and international professionals. The author also does a fabulous job at describing the land and animals through characters who act as tour guides for visiting friends or investigators. The story requires a large cast, so only a few characters seemed fully developed. However, thinking back critically, all characters were essential to the story’s plot, and were used to give a fascinating glimpse into the people, culture, and complexities of Kenya.
I definitely recommend this book. I add the caveat to remember that although the author is now a Texas Writer (and we are glad to have him!), this story is written by a man who has lived in many countries and cultures, and rather than writing a mainstream American police procedural, has incorporated the techniques from many storytelling traditions. It took me a bit longer than usual to get hooked and get into the rhythm of the narrative, but my patience and persistence was rewarded.