Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills

by
Non-series

Vanguard Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59315-499-2 (1593154992)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59315-499-8 (9781593154998)
Publication Date: March 2009
List Price: $25.95

Review: A slam-bang action adventure with an extremely plausible scenario about foreign aid, corruption and cover-ups, including murder, Lords of Corruption by Wyoming author Kyle Mills explodes like a karate kick to the solar plexus.

Now in his mid-twenties and with a criminal record staining his resume, Kentuckian Josh Hagarty has just completed an MBA. Frustrated by dead-end job searches, he thinks he’s headed to heaven when the representative of a federally funded charitable organization labelled New Africa offers him employment in Africa to oversee the charity’s “sustainable agricultural projects.” But reality sets in when he realizes he’ll have to leave his 17-year-old step sister behind in an abusive household to travel to a continent he knows nothing about to perform a job for which he’s not really qualified. But the promises of money and the chance to whitewash his blemished cv outweigh his better judgement. So, he’s soon winging his way into an African country with poverty, military control, disease and despair worse than anything he’s ever imagined.

On the job, Josh learns fast. A hard lesson teaches him not to travel alone. He’s quickly made aware of whom he can trust at a fake job site, at other charitable organizations in the vicinity, and in the gated compound where he lives in relative luxury and cleanliness compared to the starkness of the nearby AIDS-ridden villages. He gets to know the lay of the land politically, as well, when he sees and hears about the atrocities and genocide committed by the country’s president, Umboto Mtiti. To further complicate his life, he must deal daily with Mtiti’s brother-in-law, a ruthless sycophant assigned as Josh’s assistant, but whom Josh catches running a black market in goods stolen from the New Africa job site. Josh may have stumbled in the past, but he’s not about to buy into the corruption he unearths at his so-called agricultural project -- in reality, a front for funnelling money for a variety of national and international criminals and crimes. But as he becomes increasingly aware of his employers’ contacts and their illegal activities, Josh finds allies in a cynical American journalist, JB Flannary, and a 26-year-old Scandinavian aid worker, Annika Gritdal, both of whom sign on to help him expose the political and financial corruption around them, and to solve the mystery of a death that is so compellingly detailed in the Prologue to the novel. Annika more than willingly helps him expose his love life, as well.

As the omniscient author, Mills cleverly manipulates his story to gain the maximum in tension and suspense. The family drama with Josh and his beleaguered sister in Kentucky plays out via the uncertainties of international cell phone connections before she is kidnapped to coerce Josh into compliance for the New Africa money-laundering endeavours. Then, there are the well-paced switches from one character’s version of events to another’s, with each change contributing a surprise or a resolution for moving the story forward. In one sadistic scene innocent lives are lost gangland style while in others the depictions of political spin photo-ops for foreign aid could have been ripped straight from the front pages of any of today’s newspapers. The rapid fire action scenes and the often staccato-style dialogue contribute positively to the pacing, too, as the characters race headlong through realistic armoured vehicle chases, rebel uprisings, bloody tribal retributions, and on to the cathartic relief of the novel’s conclusion.

A high-octane thriller about dark deeds on a troubled continent, Lords of Corruption is a rapid-fire, eye-opening read.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham (mw_cunningham@telus.net) for contributing his review of Lords of Corruption.

Review Copyright © 2009 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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Synopsis (from the publisher): When an obscure charity recruits Josh Hagarty to manage their activities in a war-torn region of Africa, he is eager to sign on and atone for a past he regrets. After a lifetime of bad luck, someone is finally giving him a chance. All he has to do now is not blow it.

He tries to lose himself in his new job, but soon the precariousness of his situation becomes impossible to ignore. Gideon, the man assigned to guide him through the dangerous and exotic world he’s been thrust into, is revealed to be a psychotic thug with ties to the country’s genocidal dictator. And Josh’s predecessor didn’t quit as he’d been led to believe, but was found dismembered in the jungle after asking questions no one wanted answered.

When the life of his young sister in the United States is threatened by the organization, Josh is forced to face the fact that his employer may not be the benevolent charity it claims to be. Worse yet, Josh realizes he has become an unwitting player in a billion-dollar conspiracy with tentacles snaking across the globe. Escape is impossible – the only way out is to bring the whole institution down.

With the help of Annika Gritdal, a beautiful Scandinavian aid worker, and journalist JB Flannary, Josh pits himself against an American criminal organization backed by a dictator who is virtually omnipotent within the borders of his own country. As his own survival becomes less and less likely, Josh realizes that his life is just one of thousands – perhaps millions- at stake.

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