When a prominent archeologist’s mysterious death is quickly ruled asuicide, trial attorney and amateur archeologist Jim Henderson is hiredto go to Africa and investigate. What seems to be a museum simply tryingto make sure it can collect on a life insurance policy soon turns into adangerous mystery involving missing relics, native legends, and hints atthe very origins of humanity.
Jon C. Hall’s novel, Bokuru is a well developed and researched thrillersurrounding an African archeological dig. The author’s attention todetail is evident from the opening paragraph:
Out on the broad African savannah, vultures pecked noisily at theremains of an abandoned kill that lay on the top of the bank of asmall stream. To the south, a distant rumbling grew louder as agiant cloud of dust loomed ever closer, slowing blotting out thehorizon. The vultures gave a last stab at the carcass, and then roseseeking escape on a thermal updraft.
There are plenty of twists, turns, innuendos, dead ends, and surprisesto keep the most die-hard mystery fan happy. The more Henderson delvesinto the mystery of Dr. Bronston’s death and the truth behind hisexcavation dig discoveries, the more the reader gets pulled into a plotthat grows more and more complex without growing convoluted.
The one flaw in the work is in the dialogue. Though the dialogue itselfis believable, the individual characters sometimes run together. Withthe exception of Henderson, the true voices of the various charactersnever really develop. This is a particular distraction with NancyBronston, Dr. Bronston’s daughter and an executive at the museum thatsponsored her father’s dig. We first meet Nancy at the cemetery at herfather’s funeral. Her emotions seem stiff and too businesslikeconsidering the circumstances, and I never really felt much for thecharacter. There are also occasions in the dialogue where the authorseems to more be making political points instead of moving the storyforward. Fortunately, the tale itself is strong enough to keep thereader reading.
Published posthumously, this would have been the author’s debut novel.It is, indeed, a strong debut, and one to be proud of. Hall’s sisterBarbara, who worked with her brother on researching the book and servedas his editor, is to be commended for insuring that readers have theopportunity to read her brother’s work.