A Guide to the Beasts of East Africa Paperback – 7 Nov 2013
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A book of immense charm; a sort of P G Wodehouse meets Alexander McCall Smith (Joanne Harris on A Guide to the Birds of East Africa)
A delightful comedy... It invites comparison to The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, but it's original and, if anything, has more depth (Daily Mail on A Guide to the Birds of East Africa)
A gentle alternative world just waiting to be explored...put aside your woes and cares and give yourself a treat (Guy Pringle newbooks)
About the Author
Nicholas Drayson was born in England and lived in Australia since 1982, where he studied zoology and gained a PhD in 19th-century Australian natural history writing and two daughters. He has worked as a journalist in the UK, Kenya and Australia, writing for publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Australian Geographic. He is the author of three previous novels, Confessing a Murder, Love and the Platypus and A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (Penguin, 2008). He is now wandering through England aboard his boat, the Summer Breeze.
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A gentle read where little seems to happen, but does so pleasantly. Join animated camaraderie at the 107 year old Asadi Club, Tuesday birdwatching, a safari (something unexpected accompanying), even a possible solution to the notorious 1941 Happy Valley society murder.
The writer is in no hurry, nor should the reader be. Occasionally he intrudes with asides of his own. Quirkiness abounds, with cryptic sayings at the head of each chapter (some a bit tiresome actually, as with "A raindrop has no memory"). Even two dead lions have a part to play: a stuffed one mysteriously disappeared; a Minister's rug reputedly made from "Born Free" Elsa's mum.
Can the newspaper be saved? Is the Club doomed? No way will readers be on the edge of their seats, but many may welcome this chance to relax - they also to be happy when Mr. Malik and his friends have cause to celebrate.
(By the way, East Africa's most dangerous animal? The answer may surprise.)
At its centre is Mr Malik, 66, with his comb-over and his family sweet factory, his crush on the widowed Rose, and his more modern daughter Petula.
I think I would have preferred something a little more defined as, while I loved the characters, the story feels rambling and haphazard.
If you like your reading gentle, genial and gracious then this might well suit very well.
You can definitely read this book without reading 'Birds' but you would know a lot more about everyone if you you read it as well.
Submerge yourself in the day to day goings on of Mr Malik and his friends. Join the members of the Asadi Club in pondering the murder of the Earl of Erroll (see the book and film White Mischief) and enjoy the solutions and counter solutions which appear throughout the book as the friends argue it through. Sympathise with Mr Malik who is organising the Asadi Club annual safari while worrying about Petula's wedding - will the samosas have peas in them and has he booked enough porta-loos? Worry with the members that the Asadi Club may be closed down by a corrupt official of the Government.
Funny, intelligent and kind, also with hippos. Find somewhere comfortable and enjoy.
Although this is the second book in which Mr Malik has appeared, I have not read the first. However, I can confirm that this can be read on a standalone basis without the reader feeling that they have missed out on important background information. This main plot of this story revolves around endemic institutional corruption, sadly very common in Africa, and an old mystery as to the perpetrator of the murder of Lord Erroll which took place some 70 years ago. However, there is quite a lot of description of the everday lives of Mr Malik and his friends and their beloved Asadi Club.
This is not a book which takes very long to get into, and although it is not going to appeal to those who like adrenalin filled thrillers, most will find it captivating as I did. I look forward to reading more about Mr Malik and further books in this series will certainly be on my reading list.
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