Standalone or series
First in a planned series.
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
I am aware that there’s a lack of diversity in my default authors, so when this Nigerian-based crime novel came up on the Pigeonhole online book club I thought it was a good opportunity to read something in the genre I love, but set in a country and culture I know little about.
Review copy or purchase
Thank you to the author, publishers Raven Books and online book club Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read this for free. This is an honest and voluntary review.
What it’s about
Dr Philip Taiwo is an investigating psychologist. Born and raised in Nigeria he has recently returned to the country after spending a number of years studying in America and working with the police there. His wife Folake got a new job as a lecturer in law at university in Lagos so the family are now living there 16-year-old twin sons and teenage daughter are now living there. Philip is asked to investigate the reasons behind the horrific mob killings of three young men in a Nigerian town. It’s clear the incident has had a lasting effect on the residents, many of whom were part of the mob, and they and the local police are very resistant to outside interference. Supported only by driver Chika, Philip tries to find out the truth about why the mob descended on the men accused of being thieves. But, does the mob even know why they really did what they did?
I absolutely loved this. It’s quite a densely-packed read. Lots happening and brilliant characters, but such dark material a lot of the time that there was a lot to chew over and reflect on. This is unlikely to be a one sitting book, but you also won’t want to put it down.
It’s hard to talk about the plot without giving massive spoilers. The books I would draw parallels with also give away parts of the plot as there are similar elements (handled in a different way). So, instead I’ll say if you like Michael Connelly, Stephen King or Chuck Palahniuk I think you’ll enjoy this.
Philip is a great character. He sees the good in people while also understanding how easy it is for them to make bad decisions. His driver Chika quickly proves himself to be more than appears kicking off a great partnership that I’m really hoping continues in the future books of this planned series.
The whole book is really well handled. There are immediate threats and challenges which ratchet the tension up, and at the same time there’s a looming sense of a darker figure behind it all. One glimpsed in occasional chapters from his perspective. These chapters rarely gives clues to the time period so everyone Philip meets came under suspicion by me as being the puppet master pulling the strings behind it all.
The whole story is about how people can be unwittingly manipulated to behave as a mob in a way they would never do individually. While social media can help stir up tensions and create this mentality really it’s about understanding human nature and preying on people’s fears. Anyone who watched and listened to the lead up to and events on 6 January 2021 in Washington DC will recognise a lot in the latter half of this book. A reminder that fiction rarely strays far from reality.