THE GRASS RAIN by Eduardo Garrigues


Email this review


Anyone who's ever read a Graham Greene novel will be several steps ahead of the narration throughout this stiff, talky, predictable ""tale of modern Africa""--about an innocent American ecologist caught up with spies, terrorists, and hunters in post-colonial Kenya. Bob Fender arrives in Nairobi with a research-grant to study Kenya's grasslands; immediately, however, he's mistaken by the US Ambassador (and by Kenya's secret police) for a US spy--supposedly on a mission to investigate the recent car-accident (?) death of an American diplomat. So, while Fender blithely heads off to Mombasa for grassland field-trips, his every move is being monitored by government agents--who hope that Fender's supposed sleuthing will help them in their efforts to defuse a threatened coup by Kenyan dissidents. Meanwhile, Fender's outdoors research brings him into contact with an obsessed white-hunter, assorted poachers, and an evil Italian animal-skin smuggler--who has now agreed to help the dissidents with some secret arms shipments. He also encounters a few heavy-breathing women, as Garrigues' uneven prose reaches its verbose nadir in ill-written sex scenes. (""His whole body tensed, as though trying to pierce that medusan tongue with his penis."") And, after Fender finally learns (from the cynical US diplomats) that he's been both pawn and bait in high-level scheming, there's a series of half-hearted action finales--including two fairly extraneous kidnappings. Garrigues, a veteran Spanish diplomat in Africa, offers some evocative glimpses of buffalo/rhino hunting, of Kenyan scenery, of slimy political maneuverings. All of this has been done equally well elsewhere, however, while the plotting and characterization here--a faceless hero, clumsy exposition, humorlessly belabored ironies--are decidedly inferior.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 1984
Publisher: Macmillan