“Trail of Dolour” by Nsununguli Mbo

This story is a psychological thriller that dives deep into the heads of the various characters involved in an abduction case.

How can any intelligent young person be so stupid as to allow herself to be lured into entrapment by someone who wishes them ill? The challenge for the author of such a story is to answer that question. If she can make us believe how a character we like and respect can make such a mistake, then the rest of the story is made.

In that respect, this author succeeds. Chawda, the main character, knows all the safety rules. But somehow the pleas and warnings from the stranger on the phone strike the right note with her, and she slips ever so slowly into trouble. There is interesting thematic material on the effects of modern technology and social media on the simple life of the characters, which explains how such an unlikely plotline can sound plausible.

Once she has made the choice and put herself into the hands of her abductor, it becomes a different story: a tale of survival. The action picks up and the suspense deepens. In a cleverly conceived plotline, everything that could go wrong usually does, and what should be a normal situation keeps getting worse, mainly due to the personalities involved.

The setting of the story is Botswana, a country known only to fans of the “No.1 Ladies Detective Agency” series of books and TV shows. If not for my experience with these works, I would not be able to vouch for the authenticity of the cultural setting. What sounds like poor writing at times is perfectly normal in that society. These odd touches that normally would be detrimental to the writing become unique windows to another world. On the other hand, there is a lack of proper editing, which sometimes makes the writing style awkward.

Unfortunately, near the end the author takes the antagonist’s point of view and explains all the details of the story from the beginning. After this, the whole book loses its immediacy, and everything is explained in an objective and unemotional style.

A good effort at a psychological thriller which does not quite come off, though it makes an interesting read. Recommended for those who like a change from everyday authors.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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