Jan 9, 2011

Dangerous Power Games by Geoffrey Musonda - A Review

April 2009, Suspense
Trafford Publishing, $12.65, 124 pages, ISBN 978-1425180560
Available on Amazon.com

This is the first book by Geoffrey Musonda I’ve read. I made the decision to buy it after seeing it nominated for Best Fiction at the 2010 Ngoma Awards. Dangerous Power Games has some funny moments and a good underlying message, but when it’s all said and done it doesn’t quite have the whole package.

Ngosa is a young bank professional living and working in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. As a youngster his family was abandoned by their father, and made destitute by their changed fortunes. He ended up living on the streets after the death of his mother and sister, when he runs away to escape abusive relatives. With support from a local social worker he was able to return to school some time later, and restart his life. This is where the book picks up.

After an evening out with friends, Ngosa’s life starts to seemingly unravel. He’s fallen into lust with a beautiful seductress who jilts him the morning after; and he’s accused of money laundering by his bank employers.

There’s murder and intrigue intertwined, as Ngosa is thrust into a shadowy criminal underworld. There are elements of political and institutional corruption also involved, and we quickly learn that Ngosa is a pawn in a much bigger game.

So, with all these elements why didn’t the book come together for me? Quite frankly, there was too much going on. I could barely keep track of all the various characters and what their roles were, and I had to muddle through much of the story. I don’t mind going back a few pages to re-read a passage because I may have missed something but to do this constantly is aggravating; the book was choppy and didn’t always flow seamlessly.

I understand the author was trying to show how ‘small fish’ can get swallowed up in this large pond called life, but I think he tried too hard and failed with the basic premise. I did, however, enjoy the elements of friendship and trust displayed in some of the minor characters surrounding Ngosa as he tries to clear his name of the false charges.

Mr Musonda also makes it clear in this story that society has failed in its obligations to children who are made destitute through circumstances beyond their control, and how this makes us all less well off. I agree wholeheartedly and appreciate his courage to put this plainly in his writing. He gives us Ngosa, a young man, who with the right help lifts himself from his miserable existence on the streets. This is something to cheer.

The book definitely has it moments; I was entertained by characters like Officer Matwi (ears) and the Pastor turned politician, Chidumbo (fat person), and the other elements of satire and social commentary.

At this time, I cannot recommend Dangerous Power Games. It unfortunately reads like a first draft that needs to be refined and edited more thoroughly. The story had potential but it just didn't work. I would be interested to hear from others who have read it to see what you thought. 


I am wondering, is the problem that the book was written for a film or was it simply bad?

It sounds to me that it is the latter, because I can't see how this book can become a film. I am under the impression that it was film? No?

As far as I can tell this story just has this one format as a novel. My main critique is that it's a poorly written book. The potential was there for it to hit all cylinders but that didn't happen. Come to think of it, it was reading a script to a bad movie (if that makes sense).

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