Up against a wall of deceitfulness and threats from hired assassins, a veteran investigator follows the money in a dangerous case of high-stakes duplicity.
In Maputo, Mozambique, low-level bureaucrat Aisa Simango is highly disturbed to find a “discrepancy” of $5 million in funds allocated by the United Nations to the Swiss foundation Global Alternatives, a new player in the international development-aid field. When the Global representative fails to allay her apprehension, Aisa consults the staff of her company, which is working with Global, who suggest that hackers may be responsible. U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services investigator Valentin Vermeulen (Illicit Trade, 2017, etc.), stepping in on his own after a visit to Global’s offices, determines that the funds were stolen. When he demands an explanation from Aisa, she confesses to not having been straightforward with him on his earlier visit but claims that Global’s files are wrong: they’re the thieves, not her. While he makes the rounds of the city’s financial institutions, Vermeulen becomes the target of thugs. As if this weren’t evidence enough, the corpse of Helton, Aisa’s accountant, is found, a victim of foul play. Meanwhile, a gang of thugs, led by the terse Raul and including the martial arts assassin KillBill and a brute called simply “the giant,” lie in wait. While Vermeulen uses his wits and his fists to maneuver safely, his lover, Tessa, works online to unravel the complex scheme.
Though its plot is a bit of a ramble, the third case for Niemann’s hero, a slick sleuth in the 007 mold, deepens the portrait of contemporary Africa through its detailed descriptions of Mozambique and its culture.