ARC Review: An African Affair by Nina Darnton
Author: Nina Darnton
Title: An African Affair
Release: May 29, 2012
Source: Publisher (Plume/Penguin)
Purchase: | Book Depository
After the assassination of a prominent Nigerian politician, New York journalist Lindsay Cameron moves to Lagos to follow a trail of corruption, drug smuggling and murder. What begins with a coveted and exclusive interview with President Michael Olumide quickly spirals into something darker and increasingly dangerous. When two high-profile figures on opposite sides of the political spectrum-Olumide’s most trusted adviser and his archrival for the presidency-are killed in suspiciously quick succession, Olumide’s promise to hold free elections is cast in doubt. As Lindsay races her colleagues to penetrate the intricate network of Western officials, foreign correspondents, and CIA agents who run the Nigerian show, her entanglement with a rare art dealer leads her into terrain that’s unfamiliar in every respect-from matters of the heart to matters of politics and trade that have enshrouded an entire nation in greed and corruption of deadly proportions.
Africa has always been a bit of a literary mystery to me – Out of Africa is my guide, which is just wrong when you think about it. Nina Darnton’s Suspense Thriller An African Affair was quite an eye opener. The author has herself lived in Africa in the 70s (two years of which she spent in the novel’s setting – Lagos Nigeria) and it is evident in every detail that she has done her research.
An African Affair was a fascinating and yet, disturbing read. Lindsay Cameron, a journalist stationed in Lagos is looking for a story – one that will expose the corruption of Nigerian President Michael Olumide’s regime, she realizes that any attempt to unmask the truth behind the lies fed to the media may lead to her never being able to step foot in Nigeria again – that is, if she’s allowed to leave. Yet she doesn’t give up.
When one political assassination is followed by another mysterious death – Lindsay finally has the lead she was looking for. But with the CIA, mercenaries, rebels and the regime itself involved, she’s heading down an increasingly dangerous path.
Nina Darnton’s detailed description of the day-to-day life of a journalist in Africa, the often haunting descriptions of what life is like in Nigeria for local residents and the diplomatic staff were insightful and brought the story to life.
The novel remained suspenseful throughout and other than one minor scene which felt a bit unrealistic when you look at the bigger picture (won’t spoil but it involved Lindsay and a very tidy escape) the book managed to keep me on the edge of my seat.
Darnton’s protagonist is depicted in a very realistic way, she is not perfect, she has her flaws, and yet she still manages to be likable. In fact, each of the characters is very well portrayed and no one comes out looking one dimensional.
Reading this book I felt the suffocating heat, the close environment, the fear, the excitement and the adrenalin pumping as if I was Lindsay.
Darnton’s novel is a spectacular debut and I for one will be very happy to read whatever she comes up with next.
On a side note, as someone who works in a newsroom, I loved the backstage look at a journalist’s life abroad – filing stories, trying to dictate stories via a broken phone line – It brought a smile to this reviewers’ face.