aimee dars reads

Review: LIGHTSEEKERS by Femi Kayode

In a small Nigerian town near Port Harcourt, university students who came to be known as The Okriki Three were brutally beaten and murdered by a group of townspeople, and several video appear of the melee on social media. Though what happened is evident, the local constabulary have been lackluster in pursuing suspects, and only a handful of the many people filmed are charged. This doesn’t sit well with Emeka Nwamadi, the head of one of the largest commercial banks in Nigeria, and father of Kevin, one of the killed boys. Emeka hires Dr. Philip Taiwo, an investigative psychologist, to determine what led to the tragic events—the elusive why behind the crime. With Chika Makuochi, a streetwise driver provided by Emeka, Taiwo travels to Okriki from Lagos and is immediately stonewalled. Even the hotel manager and local landlords have heard rumors of his investigation within hours and pressure him to leave the city. While Taiwo doubted his ability to uncover any new information, the obfuscation he hits indicates that something is being hidden, and he becomes more committed to learning the truth even as his goals diverge from Emeka’s and he wonders if he can trust his closest allies. Because of the many layers of conflict that sow distrust, and the interesting question behind the mystery—why was Kevin, a model student, killed—I enjoyed the book, but what I liked most what learning more about the cultural context including the conflicts between Christians and Muslims, tension between different tribal groups, the town and university students, and oil companies and citizens. Chika was an interesting character, and Taiwo serves as an effective narrator, although at times I was frustrated with his flippant tone or when he got angry with other characters for doing things he himself did. Interstitial chapters by an unknown (until the end) character were very disturbing and fittingly conveyed a sinister atmosphere. I understand that this is the first book in a series, and I plan on reading the second book when it is available! Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.