Monday, April 27, 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


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: Kyle Mills explores the relationship between official governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), wealthy donors, organized crime, an impoverished nation on the edge of civil war, and a single naive young man in Lords of Corruption, the author's fifth non-series thriller.

Josh Hagarty is an ex-con with a graduate degree. Unfortunately, potential employers can't see past the ex-con part. Except one. NewAfrica, a NGO that provides assistance to people in need, wants Josh to manage their operation in Africa. Josh doesn't necessarily want the job, but he needs to provide for his family and their offer of employment is extremely attractive. Once Josh lands in Africa, however, he realizes the task is beyond his capabilities. Mostly, he is completely unprepared for the rampant corruption that exists. But when he tries to back out, to quit, he's met with surprising resistance. And when he tries to learn more about his own organization, he puts his life, and those of his family back home, in danger.

Almost by definition, thrillers are supposed to proceed at a rapid pace; most are described as "page-turners". But Lords of Corruption moves at such a glacial speed that it gives readers plenty of time to ponder the gaping plot holes that are at the core of this ill-conceived novel (a thriller it is not).

Probably the most glaring plot problem is why Josh Hagarty is hired in the first place. NewAfrica is a multi-million dollar fraud, raking in cash from government agencies and clueless donors and laundering it through an unnamed country in Africa. Why would its criminal operators risk this cash bonanza by spending a paltry $30,000 a year on a neophyte? It's clear NewAfrica is capable of staging all the photo ops it needs to keep donations flowing in and government agencies funding its operations. What role does Josh play here? Why is it even necessary to hire him? In fact, it isn't, so the whole premise of the book is as fraudulent as as everyone involved in NewAfrica. Some irony there. If Josh had had a legitimate purpose for being in Africa there might be the foundation for a story here.

Still the plot dictates that Josh be in Africa in the midst of all this strive and chaos and corruption, so be it. But he has this miracle satellite phone that has a battery that never runs down, and never needs charging, and even operates underground. He can call anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. But does he ever call for help? No, that would be far too logical.

And that's really the problem with Lords of Corruption. Little makes sense. Josh never seems to have any money or anything of value, yet his Land Rover always has a full tank of gas even after driving hours over rugged terrain. Other characters don't seem to have any problem entering or exiting the country at will, yet Josh is trapped, unable to leave. And so on.

The last quarter of Lords of Corruption actually is a thriller in every sense of the word and is really quite interesting in its own way, but by the time the author deigns to get to this point all credibility in the story, and reader interest therein, has long since been abandoned.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing a copy of Lords of Corruption for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): When Josh Hagarty is recruited by the charitable organization NewAfrica to manage a farming project in an underdeveloped African country, he signs on, figuring that he can put his newly acquired graduate degree in engineering to good use. However, when Josh gets situated in Africa, he finds that NewAfrica may not be the philanthropic charity it purports itself to be.

As Josh delves deeper into his work, secrets begin to unravel, throwing him into a world of violence, turmoil, and political corruption. He soon learns that Gideon, the man responsible for heading the local organization, is not only a relative of the African country’s president, but also a strong-arm thug with a tendency towards aggression and dishonesty. In his hunt for both truth and justice, Josh also discovers that his predecessor may have been murdered to cover up something he had discovered about the project, something that should have remained buried. And why has Gideon uprooted the very people that Josh thought he was supposed to be helping? Is NewAfrica merely a scam?

With the help of Annika Gritdal, a beautiful Scandinavian aid worker, and journalist J.B. Flannary, Josh must fight to uncover the truth behind NewAfrica. In doing so, the trio must struggle to survive by evading those who are trying to prevent them from uncovering a dangerous secret—a secret that might just get them killed.

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