The writer, Femi Kayode’s background in television writing, is apparent right from the beginning of his debut novel, Lightseekers.
The book focuses on the very public murder of the Okiri Three, their deaths all recorded, with crowds of witnesses. Everyone knows who was responsible for the heinous, unnecessary deaths.
The characters are all well-drawn, backgrounds and surroundings are vividly described. The action goes along at a cracking pace, and the plot of the story is incredibly timely, looking at the part that social media played in the murder of three young boys.
In Lockdown, large crowds are a thing of memory. Still, in Lightseekers they are an integral part of the story, as three boys are brutally murdered in a Nigerian University town, the events seen by many, recorded by some.
Philip Taiwo, an investigative psychologist with an academic interest in crowd behaviour, is asked to investigate the events, by one of the dead boy’s fathers. Still, as he reaches the town from his life in America, he finds a wall of silence building around him. Add in drama at home, and suspicions about his wives’ fidelity, Philip has more on his mind as the investigation draws on all of his skills.
The strange, unfamiliar customs of the town’s people means that he is facing opposition and boundaries around his work at every turn. As one thing leads to another, the clues lead to increasing levels of danger.
The denouement, when it happens, is not really what was expected, but it is fitting with the story and makes sense. Philip Taiwo is a flawed man, he is an academic well out of his comfort zone helping the Police, but he makes for an interesting character. The novel clocks in at more than 400 pages, but the pacing, and the tension of the book feels just right. The characters are vividly drawn, with much made of the differences, culturally between them.
For fans of Crime Fiction, and quality literary fiction with a new surprise and development on every page, this is worth a few hours of your time.
Reviewed by Ben Macnair
Raven Books, hardback,
ISBN 9781526617590, Feb 2021