THE IDOL OF MOMBASA
By Annamaria Alfieri
Felony & Mayhem Press (2016)
Kindle edition: $7.99
Vera and Tolliver Series (Book 2)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
The two are rarities in this insular colonial community. Vera speaks Swahili and has empathy for the local people, whom she treats kindly. Justin treats his African underlings with respect in a society where the ruling white government sees the natives as inferiors, there to do their bidding. The Tollivers’s unusual behavior offends their British peers, but they will not bow to an outdated system.
Justin is sent to Morley’s mission to mediate between Morley and Majidi over the future of Joseph Gautura. He’s too late, though: Joseph has been murdered. The search for his killer opens up a world of intrigue and danger. Ugly secrets turn up, including human trafficking and corruption on the highest levels. The unpleasant but historically accurate ill-treatment of the native Africans under colonial rule is laid bare. In contrast, the bravery and compassion of the missionaries, the enlightened viewpoint of people like Vera and Justin, the kindness and empathy of Rev. Morley’s sister Katherine, and friendships of people of differing faiths and social class give hope that things are changing for the better.
This excellent book gives the reader a look into the history and culture of East Africa and its troubled colonial history. Justin and Vera are multi-layered characters, likable, and believable. The lush setting is a character in itself, recalling a time and a place long gone. The Tollivers’s sleuthing skills and personal interactions bring to mind other detective duos of the time. Fans of Elizabeth Peters Peabody and Emerson in Victorian Egypt and Anne Perry’s Inspector Thomas Pitt and wife Charlotte in Victorian England will enjoy this series. I look forward to the next installment in this series. Highly recommended.
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