An intelligent tale of a family still haunted by a murder long-ago in far-away Kenya.
British writer Blake (Waiting for the Sea to Be Blue, not reviewed, etc.) deftly evokes the country now and as it was in the last days of the Raj in this story of London banker Michael Ballantyne. With a glittering résumé, an old family name, and a career in the making, Michael lacks only a wife. Then he meets Olivia Jones in his dentist's office, of all places, and is smitten. Olivia falls for him, too, but she's hardly typical banker's-wife material: Her mother Eugenie is living in a hospital for the insane, and Olivia herself is about to head off to the Kenya desert, hoping to convince her brother David, a teacher at a mission school, to visit Eugenie, whom he has not seen since she was tried for murder. When Olivia somehow goes astray in the wilds, Michael flies out to Kenya to find herand, while awaiting news, hears the family's story from her Aunt Jessie. He discovers how Eugenie fled Africa and her handsome scoundrel husband, Gareth, for England, bringing their children along; how she later became reconciled with Gareth and was persuaded to rush back to Kenya, where he again abandoned her. Eugenie, penniless and pregnant with David, permitted childless Harry and June Crane, whom she'd met on the boat from England, to adopt him. But, increasingly unable to accept the adoption, she began stalking the child, the poignantly absent yet not hopelessly distant object of her increasingly deranged affection. Finally, the accidental death of her older son led her to attack June fatally with a knife. Now, back in the desert, Olivia, ill and dehydrated, is rescued by a tribesman. The lovers are eventually reunited, although not before Michael has been tested severely by people and a way of life alien to the board room and the Ballantyne estate.
A refreshingly sensible take on sensational crime.