A RUMOR OF DRUMS by Herbert Best


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Shades of yesteryear in this novel about the Colonial Civil Service at work in Northern Nigeria shortly after World War I...Ian Keith, come out on a second tour of the region, finds drink, sex, and Pettibone his Trinity of irritants. Pettibone, at first his District Officer, is the most formidable of the three threats, and a deadly enmity grows out of all proportions as the other officer, even after Keith takes over as D.O., heaps provocation upon provocation. When Pettibone's egomaniac rashness in attempting to take the Closed Area of Kulere by force results in a junior officer's death, the stage is set for a final calculated sortie that must end the feud forever. After Pettibone, comes sex, a problem solved for Keith by the Keith by the enchanting Hafsatu and Hatasu, who as twins and Muslims cannot marry the same man and become his concubines in order not to be separated. Of the Service, there is a minor paean only partially fulfilled-- ""giving people justice and roads and other things they want and stopping them from murdering each other"". The background is drawn from the author's own twelve-year tour as administrator in the area during the period portrayed, but it all seems very far away, and the primitive plot doesn't serve to bring it much closer. Essentially adventure fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1963
Publisher: McKay