This novel was somewhat spoilt for me by the fact that I already seen the film. A mistake as I much prefer not to have any preconceived ideas about the plot, characters and settings, letting my imagination have free rein.
This is probably the reason that although the book has been on my bookshelves for a few years now I have only just got around to reading it. Even so with pictures already in my mind I did enjoy the book more than I expected to.
This novel is disturbingly believable as exploitation of Africa and Africans for medical testing by the giant pharmaceutical companies is a sad but I suspect true fact of life. In this case the story is set in Kenya and the protagonist Justin Quayle is a diplomat in Nairobi with the British High Commission. His wife Tessa is murdered because she finds out that a drug being used as a cure for tuberculosis within the tribal villages is unstable. There are still many unresolved and dangerous side effects making the drug unsafe for prescribing, although bribery and corruption have meant that it is in common local use. Tessa is a lawyer and so horrified by her discovery that along with her friend Arnold Bluhm she had been collecting data to prove what she has discovered.
After her death Justin carries on with his wife’s campaign, turning spy to resolve why his wife was murdered and by whom. Time spent working in the foreign office meant he knew to be extra careful in his investigations as ‘In a civilised country you never can tell!’