A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd – Book Review

Morgan Leafy is a misanthrope. You don’t like him at first, he comes across as condescending, even to himself. He describes himself as not too attractive, his skin is not tanning in the hot and humid West African weather and his potbelly is growing. He doesn’t like his job much as the First Secretary at the British office in the small town of Nkogsamba, in the republic of Kinjanja. The country seems to be recently independent and are about to carry out their second elections.

 

The book cover for A Good Man in Africa

The book cover for A Good Man in Africa

 

However, things are about to change for Morgan. He has a chance to redeem his dim career through a project that his boss, Fanshawe is involved in. In addition, Fanshawe’s daughter, Priscilla, has come back from England and things are going smoothly between Morgan and her. Morgan has finally got a flat for his black mistress, Hazel.

It is when things begin to fall apart that we begin to like Morgan and sympathize with his problems. The books is hilarious in describing incidents, I laughed out loud in many scenes. Priscilla dumps Morgan for a younger diplomat who has come as Morgan’s assistant. The project Morgan is working on is a local politician called Sam Adekunle isn’t going too well, as Sam is now blackmailing Morgan. Morgan was unfortunately sleeping with Sam’s wife and when he’s caught, the consequences include losing his job and his reputation. So Sam blackmails him by making him bribe the only righteous man in the book, Dr. Alex Murray, who has been treating Leafy (he has a venereal disease).

Things head to a climax towards Christams as some obscure royal duchess is visiting the small town of Nkogsamba and Morgan has to be Father Christams. Then Fanshawe’s maid Innocence is struck dead by lightning and it’s up to Morgan to sort out the mess. Even as the book ends, Fanshawe’s wife tries to seduce Morgan, although they have had a hate-barely-tolerate-each-other relationship throughout the book.

This is the best book I’ve read in a long time, and I’m glad I listened to the friend who recommended it.

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