Mike Ripley's Crime File - February 2007
'African Sky' by Tony Park ; 'Deathly Wind' by Keith Moray
African Sky by Australian author Tony Park (Pan, £6.99) is a big, meaty, romantic thriller set, unusually but convincingly, in Southern Rhodesia during World War II. It begins as a detective story with an engaging heroine, volunteer policewoman Pip Lovejoy, investigating the death of a sexually promiscuous WAAF from the local RAF training base.
This wartime investigation expands to include the thriving black market in petrol, crashed aircraft, missing pilots, racial tension and mob violence and eventually a chillingly modern plot involving political assassination and mass murder.
The scale and scope of the book is very ambitious and threatens to spiral out of control towards the end in a very drawn-out climactic chase, but then Africa is a big canvas and Tony Park obviously knows it well and doesn’t short-change his readers.
Anyone who ever enjoyed a Wilbur Smith novel will be thrilled with this one.
Keith Moray's second crime novel, Deathly Wind (Robert Hale, £17.99) could not be more topical. Set in the Outer Hebrides, it tackles two of the most pressing environmental problems of the Western Isles: local opposition to wind farms and the enforced cull of the rampaging hedgehog population!
As if island policeman Inspector McKinnon didn't have enough problems, there are incoming gangsters from Glasgow, suspicious deaths and far too many guns around, threatening human and wildlife alike in one of the most isolated but staggeringly beautiful parts of the country.
Mike Ripley is the author of the 'Angel' series and writes a regular column for the Birmingham Post.