Femi Kayode. Mulholland, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-53661-5
Kayode debuts with an intriguing if uneven crime novel set in contemporary Nigeria. A prominent banker, whose son was one of three undergraduates “beaten, broken, and burnt alive” by an angry mob in the university town of Okriki, asks “investigative psychologist” Philip Taiwo to find out what really happened. Footage of the crime is widely shared on social media, and a number of people are arrested and tried, but no reasonable motive emerges. In Okriki, Taiwo slowly, and cleverly, pulls the veil back on violent, secret societies of college-age men, discovering resonance between mob violence in Nigeria and lynchings in the American South. As sociology, the book is fascinating, but as a novel it flags; the narrative isn’t tight and the victims get lost in the shuffle. Moreover, there’s a substantial disconnect between the horrific crimes and Taiwo’s jokey commentary on his own life. Though Kayode creates occasional suspense and a powerful sense of place, the story fails to gel. Those curious about Nigerian culture and politics will be most satisfied. Agent: Harry Illingworth, DHH Agency (U.K.). (Mar.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated the author of this book used a pseudonym.

Reviewed on : 12/08/2020
Release date: 03/02/2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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