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A gripping story - a chilling portrait
on 1 September 2012
Ed Caine works for an NGO which is overseeing a development in Batanga paid for from the British government's Overseas Aid programme. He arrives in the country with his wife and small child, full of enthusiastic idealism. His wife, Sarah, looks forward to finding a job that will be fulfilling for her and a positive contribution to improving the lot of women in east Africa.
Disillusion and danger lie in wait. Beatrice Kamunda also has a vision for her country, a dream of helping the numerous sick and the poor. Her father, Joseph, nurtures her belief - but no further than a pragmatic understanding of the possibilities. For Batanga is riddled with corruption. Aid money disappears into mysterious overseas accounts of prominent politicians. Civil war is a realistic threat. Against this background, Beatrice falls in love with Solomon Ouko, a businessman with an approach to ethics more opportunistic than moral.
To reveal more of the plot would be unfair, for this is a superb novel - a thriller in its action, a sermon for our times in its portrayal of what can and cannot be achieved. The writing is unfussy and vivid. Here is an Africa that has been extracted as it were from our television news bulletins. Fiction, perhaps, but with a sober ring of truth.