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Blood is Dirt [Paperback]

Robert Wilson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jun 1998

The third powerful and evocative novel in Robert Wilson’s acclaimed West African-set Bruce Medway series.

Bruce Medway, fixer and debt collector for anyone in a deeper hole than himself, has heard a few stories in his time. The one that Napier Briggs tells him is patchy, but it doesn’t exclude the vital fact that two million of his dollars have gone missing. Bruce is used to imperfect information – people get embarrassed at their own stupidity and criminality. But for the first time it leads to the gruesome and brutal death of a client.

It would all have ended there but for Napier’s daughter, the sexy, sassy and sussed Selina Aguia, a canny commodities broker. She brings money to the game and launches Bruce into a savage world where a power-hungry Nigerian presidential candidate, a rich blow-loving American and a mafia capo are fighting a silent war in which pawns are badly needed. Worse for Bruce, Selina wants revenge, and with the scam she invents she looks as if she’ll get it. This is a world where blood is dirt – nobody really cares. Not even if they love you.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New edition edition (1 Jun 1998)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0006499759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006499756
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,343,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Wilson was born in 1957. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked in shipping and advertising in London and trading in West Africa. He is married and divides his time between England, Spain and Portugal.

Product Description


Praise for Blood is Dirt:

‘Robert Wilson is a class act… For once, a novelist influenced by Raymond Chandler is not shown up by the comparison, matching his mentor’s descriptive flourish and screwball dialogue.’
Sunday Times

‘Atmosphere so saturated in sex and duplicity that you’re tempted to pause a while and wring it out. But the narrative goes at such a lick that you daren’t leave the vehicle. An engrossing read.’
Literary Review

From the Back Cover

Bruce Medway, fixer and debt collector in Benin, West Africa, has heard a few stories in his time. The one that Napier Briggs tells him is patchy but it doesn't exclude the vital fact that two million dollars have gone missing. Bruce is used to imperfect information from clients embarrassed at their own stupidity. But this time it leads to a gruesome death.

It would all have ended there but for Napier's daughter, the sexy, sassy and sussed Selina Agula, a commodities broker. She launches Bruce into the savage world that her apparently innocuous father had chosen to inhabit – a world of oil and toxic waste scams, of mafia money laundering, of death and violence fuelled by drink, drugs and sex. Worse for Bruce, Selina wants revenge, and with the scam she invents it looks as though she'll get it. But this is a world where blood is dirt – nobody really cares. Not even if they love you.

‘A vivid and steamy stumble on the wild side.’

‘Robert Wilson is a class act. For once, a novelist influenced by Raymond Chandler is not shown up by the comparison.’
JOHN DUGDALE, 'Sunday Times'

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Wilson does it again 23 Mar 2009
It is incredible that Robert Wilson can adapt his writing - his stories in Africa as so different from the wonderful Javier Falcon series. Good story line and just the book you need when sitting in an airport!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great whodunnit in West Africa 5 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great whodunnit page turner written with literary flair. The characters are both believable and interesting and the setting of West Africa is exotic. Robert Wilson is the best in this genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller 12 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful book, well written and I have loved all his books. I do hope that he continues writing his books with Falcon as the lead detective, however, this was as good...worth a read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why did it take me so long to discover Robert WIlson? 24 Sep 2006
By D. West - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My first taste of Wilson's writing was A Small Death in Lisbon! WOW!! Powerful but brutal. Since then, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on by this author.

Wilson draws on Africa for this tale and it is tautly written with complex characters. I can never see around the next corner, I am constantly amazed as Wilson pulls rabbit after rabbit out of the hat.

What I like about Wilson is that even when he's being brutal, he never forgets to be funny as well. Some of the better one liners I've read have come from his novels.

Always brutal, his characters flawed as we would expect, plots in keeping with today's drama, Wilson's novels are way ahead of the formulaic mystery writers in America. Though I ususally pass my books on to others, Wilson is one author I hate to part with.

Looking forward to the next novel.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Chandler Lived in West Africa 6 July 2004
By Otto Zappatore - Published on
If Raymond Chandler was an acerbic Brit living in Benin, well, okay, he wouldn't be Raymond Chandler, but Robert Wilson is a latter day Chandler, who describes the complexities of African corruption, gives us the flavor of heat and violence, and presents an expat private eye (Bruce Medway) who is smart, funny and about the only dry thing in West Africa.
This novel is interesting, smart about Africa, especially Nigeria, Benin, corporate fraud and political corruption. It's also funny and moves along at a good clip. Wilson is deft with characterization and complexity, and the writing is so evocative you'll feel by turns drunk, hot or terrified as you read.
A great example of what detective fiction should be: smart, original, funny and interesting.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Readable Thriller 29 Jun 2004
By Stephen B. Selbst - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Blood is Dirt is Robert Wilson's third installment in the Brude Medway series, thrillers set in West Africa.
The Medway series works for two reasons: Bruce Medway is an interesting anti-hero and Wilson is very good at physical description, and he makes the cities and countryside of this region come alive.
About Bruce Medway. The idea of a lone hero battling his (or her) own demons while simultaneously trying to achieve justice for his clients is a standard trope for fleshing out PIs. The usual way this gets played out is that the hero has some terrible unresolved loss in his past that impels him toward life as a loner, and perhaps as a lone avenger. Medway is a different spin: his troubles are not in the past, but are right there in this story. His partnership with Bagado is all but defunct, the partners are almost out of work, and clearly desperate for a paying client. Nor is all set with Medway's personal life, his on-and-off relationship with his German girlfried appears at risk once again.
When he describes the stultifying and oppressive heat, for example, and how it affects his characters, I get clammy myself. And it's not just the heat that he describes, it's the look, the feel, even the smell of these places, and the contrast between the mostly-European operated hotels and fancy restaurants and the varying degrees of misery that the vast majority of the population lives in.
So when Napier Briggs comes to Medway's office with a sketchy story about having been scammed out of nearly $2 million, and having been referred by a bureaucrat in the Lagos office of the Britsh Foreign Office, but then refuses to give Medway and Bagado enough detail to allow them to assist him, its clear that Briggs is Trouble, and the partners initially turn him away.
Even so, out of his desperation, Medway trails Briggs to his hotel, in hopes of turning Briggs into a paying client. At that point, Briggs then offers Medway a large fee to chaperone him at a meeting at which Briggs is supposed to be paid a small fortune. Medway agrees to accompany Briggs, but when he takes his eyes off of Briggs for just a moment, Briggs disappears, and soon thereafter turns up dead. I won't spoil more of the plot, but needless to say, the point then becomes to determine who killed Napier Briggs and why.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars africa! 21 Feb 2005
By Lacy Hazard - Published on
Like Robinson's, The Sapphire Sea, this well written novel takes us into the steamy alleys of Africa through the eyes of an outsider who knows the inside track. You may not like what you see, but you can't stop turning the pages. Good stuff.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Setting is the Saving Grace 14 April 2006
By Ian Fowler - Published on
When Bruce Medway, now headquartered in Benin, is approached by a client about a Nigerian scam, he is initially skeptical. When that client turns up murdered, Medway begins his quest for the killer, particularly after the victim's daughter comes to Benin looking for revenge. Medway's hunt for the killer leads him into neighboring Nigeria and its corrupt system, and a plot to sting a presidential candidate.

"Blood is Dirt" is the third book in Robert Wilson's Bruce Medway series, and the second I've read. Both have the same pluses. "Blood is Dirt" features some excellent dialogue, real suspense, and a wonderfully drawn setting. Despite being written in 1997, it is also quite timely, given that Nigeria is a continuing trouble spot for the world. As one character notes, Nigeria shouldn't be dysfunctional, and yet it is, because certain people within and without are profiting from its failure as a state.

However, I was frustrated to find many of the same minuses as his previous book. Medway is a more grounded and likable character now that his girlfriend, Heike, has returned to him. But he remains a little more distant than he ought to be for the reader to fully appreciate. He's decent enough, but the reader never quite connects with him, which is a bad thing for a mystery/suspense novel.

Moreover, the plot is far more convoluted than it needs to be, as Medway pursuit of a scam artist leads to the Italian Mafia, expatriate businessmen, and corrupt Nigerian politicos. Consequently, a lot of incidents occur that rarely seem relevant at the time, and even then, only half really matter in the long run. While a good mystery is layered, Wilson frequently spackles on plot-lines like dense concrete, some of which serve no purpose other than to obfuscate. The end result is to leave the reader rather indifferent to as to who the killer is and what their motives are. Indeed, it's quite possible you'll forget everything as soon as you close the book.

The saving grace of this series for me has been its terrific and unusual setting. I have the last volume of the series, and I will read it. But I am happy I bought these books from the bargain shelf.
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