” For me, visiting Kinging Guest Lodge in the Obudu Ranch Resort of Cross River State is always like coming home. I had visited the Lodge earlier in the year; if my memory served me well, it had been in January. The area is reputed to have the most clement weather in the country. With the beautiful beaches, gardens, waterparks and leisure spots, the Obudu Ranch Resort is a haven for tourists. The springing up of guest-houses that boast decent facilities and affordable rates, has also turned the place into a holiday-maker’s delight. Some people come here on doctors’ orders, to recuperate from one ailment or the other. “
Who would think that such a quiet and soothing place is the setting of a series of murders ? Certainly not Mr Simpson, a retired policeman who goes to Kinging Guest Lodge, in Cross River State in Nigeria, and witnesses a crime which, surprisingly enough, brings the guests together.
In an impressive display of characters, the narrator introduces the reader a microcosm where human flaws, vices, but also dreams and hopes, come to light. John Ukah’s writing is like a murmuring river echoing the characters’s voices flowing into one another. Beyond the plot of a sophisticated and classical crime novel lies a “cozy mystery” that focuses on looking into the maze of the human soul. Such is the mission of Mr Simpson, an avatar of the writer and the character all the others confess to.
Murder at Midnight, John Ukah’s first novel, is a way to reconstruct not only the genre of crime novels (it “leaves the reader wanting more” as the publisher rightly says), but also the way humans relate to one another in extreme situations ; what they become and how they move on after death enters the scene and makes the world stand still for some time. John Ukah’s style, elegant, slow-paced writing, reveals a new perspective on “cozy mysteries”.
An author whose work must be known, read and passed on.
Murder at Midnight by John Ukah
ISBN : 978-9785470710
Published by THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD (November, 2016).
Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.