British East Africa in the early 20th century is a place of extraordinary beauty, massive inequality and murder most foul.
Justin Tolliver is the second son of an earl who’s fallen in love with Africa. Lacking the money to buy a farm, he’s taken a job as a police officer. His background and skill at sports give him a certain status, but his job makes it difficult for the European ruling class to treat him as one of them. Over at the Scottish Mission, Vera McIntosh also feels the clash between her identities as the dutiful daughter of Scottish tradition and a child of Africa, where she was born and raised. Tolliver and Vera are attracted to each other even before they’re thrown together by her uncle’s murder. Dr. Josiah Pennyman, the brother of Vera’s mother, was forced to leave a fine medical practice in Scotland when his sexual exploitation of young women became too widespread a scandal to cover up. When he’s found with a native spear in his back, the most likely suspect is the Kikuyu medicine man, who makes no secret of his hatred. Although the idealistic Tolliver, assigned to head the investigation, feels that British law should apply equally to all, his superior just wants a quick resolution of the case. But Tolliver continues to examine other possibilities, from the husband of one of the doctor’s lovers to Vera’s younger brother, who left on safari the morning of the murder. Vera and Tolliver explore both Africa and their love for each other as their search for the truth leads to some unpalatable conclusions.
Alfieri (Invisible Country, 2012, etc.) aims for the audience who loved Out of Africa, with heartbreaking romance married to a complex mystery.