- Making Wolf.
- Tade Thompson.
- 272 pages.
- Thriller / Crime / Mystery.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
Meet Weston Kogi, a London supermarket store detective. He returns home to his West African home country for his aunt’s funeral. He sees his family, his ex-girlfriend Nana, his old school mate Church. Food is good, beer is plentiful, and telling people he works as a homicide detective seems like harmless hyperbole, until he wakes up in hell.
He is kidnapped and forced by two separate rebel factions to investigate the murder of a local hero, Papa Busi. The solution may tip a country on the brink into civil war.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Weston Kogi left Alcacia a former colony and now independent Yoruba-dominated fictional West African country fifteen years ago. Kogi was a teenager and left for London on one of the last planes to leave the capital, Ede City as the airport was under attack and bombs were going off, blood was being spilt, people were dying, riots were breaking out and civil unrest and war were spreading throughout the country. Lynn, his sister had fled the year before. After their mother died his aunt Blossom looked after the pair, paid for the tickets and made sure that they both safely got out of Alcacia. Weston has long since repaid his aunt back in monetary terms but, other debts run deeper and he is forever indebted to her for helping him escape the hell of Alcacia and that is something that he can never repay. He returns to Alcacia and Ede City for her funeral, to pay his respects to his dearly departed aunt and to honour her passing. He hopes to be there for 48 hours, a brief stay before getting on a plane and heading back to London.
At the after funeral service, Kogi is reacquainted with a couple of faces from his past. Firstly, Nana the girlfriend that he left behind when he fled Alcacia and secondly, the school bully Churchill ‘Church‘ Okuta who plagued his childhood and who is now a member of the rebel faction known as the People’s Liberation Army. Whilst the pair are talking Church asks Kogi what he does in London and Kogi lies, telling Church that he is a homicide detective in the Metropolitan police. The idea behind the lie is that no-one, not even Church will want to mess with a homicide detective and that it will allow Kogi to be left alone until his plane leaves when in truth he is a supermarket security guard. The lie backfires, rather spectacularly and Kogi is drugged and abducted by Church and offered a job by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Later, still contemplating the offer Kogi is once again abducted. This time, he is taken from his hotel room by the rival rebel faction known as the People’s Christian Army (PCA) as they also see him as the ideal candidate for the same job.
The job is to find out who murdered Enoch ‘Pa Busi’ Olubusi. Pa Busi was a beloved elder statesman and a national hero who was murdered in neutral territory in a time of relative calm in Alcacia. At the time of his death, Pa Busi was brokering peace talks between the LFA and the PCA and he was making progress. Both factions had put down their arms, laid down their guns, ceased hostilities and there was no active conflict taking place between the two rebel factions. There was a flicker of light in the darkness, a glimmer of hope and the possibility of peace in the future of Alcacia. With the death of Pa Busi, any hope of peace withered, dying alongside him and the bloody conflict for control of Alcacia between the unholy trinity of the two prominent rebel factions and the federal government who are all vying for power resumed.
On his return to Alcacia Kogi is seen as an outsider, a stranger. Due to that, he is the perfect person to investigate the murder as he will be neutral and impartial as he has no political affiliation to either faction. Although the job is ‘offered‘ to Kogi with the opportunity to walk away with no reprisal. Neither faction includes the type of people who you refuse if you want to continue breathing and so, with no real choice Kogi accepts the job. Throwing him into the middle of the divided nation, the conflict between the LFA and the PCA that is tearing the country apart and he is swallowed back into the corrupted and poisoned belly of the beast that is Alcacia.
Kogi left Alcacia for a chance at a better life and a future away from the violence, suffering and the constant atrocities being committed in the country. With years spent in a western country, his view has altered, the years have clouded his memory and he sees through the eyes of a visitor. Investigating the death of Pa Busi sees Kogi plunging back into the maelstrom of Alcacia where bribery and corruption are rife and government officials are all on the take and lining their own pockets. Where barbarity and brutality reign and death begets more death and violence begets more violence. And, where secret police roam and kidnappings, ransom demands, threats, torture, bombings and shootings are commonplace and the daily way of life. Alcacia is in his blood and Kogi comes to realise that innocence and being innocent have no place amongst the dangerous men and women who populate the dangerous streets and surrounding areas. That to survive he will need questionable morality, to become inured to and to embrace the darkness that is the fabric of, that is coursing through the veins of Alcacia.
Making Wolf is well-written and well-paced with the story unfolding in the first person through Weston Kogi. Thompson is a descriptive and fine storyteller and a talented writer with a tremendous sense of place. As a setting Alcacia comes to life on the pages and Thompson is unflinching in his portrayal painting a bleak, blood-soaked, corrupt, dark, gritty and savage picture of a country that is coming apart at the seams. Thompson doesn’t pull any punches and there are some vivid scenes and graphic depictions (for those who appreciate warnings, there is a rape scene late on that some will find very uncomfortable to read) featured throughout Making Wolf. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is ultra-violent but, there is an abundance of graphic violence during the story. Look beneath the violence though and there is a depth to the story that Thompson is telling.
Making Wolf is taut, gripping and unnerving. I won’t mention any details about the brutal, intense and unsettling journey that Kogi finds himself on in search of Pa Busi’s killer. However, I will say that Making Wolf sees Kogi descending into the hell that is Alcacia, losing himself, finding himself and features a satisfying and worthwhile conclusion that ties things up nicely but, should Thompson ever wish to revisit Weston Kogi and Alcacia also allows for the possibility of future books.
Purchase Making Wolf by Tade Thompson.
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