Lightseekers by Femi Kayode – Review

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By Sarah Morgan

“A jack of all trades, but master of none”, or so the saying goes. Try telling that to Femi Kayode, whose debut novel, Lightseekers, has garnered plenty of buzz in recent weeks.

He initially trained as a psychologist in his native Nigeria before spending two decades in advertising. He’s also created and written seven prime-time TV shows, studied film at the University of Southern California and completed an MA in Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia.

Some people are just annoyingly creative and talented, right?

While finishing his MA, Kayode was working on Lightseekers; it won the coveted Little, Brown / UEA Crime Fiction Award before it was even published. It’s also the first in a series of proposed novels featuring Dr Philip Taiwo, an investigative psychologist.

Lightseekers by Femi Kayode book Review coverLike Kayode himself, Taiwo has spent time living and working in the US with his wife and children before returning to Nigeria. While trying to re-establish himself, he’s contacted by the father of one of three boys murdered in a particularly chilling and gut-wrenching manner in Okriki, a university town.

“Depth and intrigue”

Their deaths were captured on camera and uploaded to social media; the all-too-brief police investigation claims they were the victims of mob justice, killed by locals who believed they were responding to a robbery-in-progress. But, as Taiwo and his mysterious new sidekick Chika soon discover, there are far darker forces at work.

Having never read a novel set in Africa before, never mind visiting the continent, I wasn’t sure I would find the setting or characters relatable, but Kayode seems to have pre-empted that by opting to make the reader see everything through Taiwo’s eyes.

When we first meet him, he has only recently returned to his home country after years away, so feels like a fish out of water – he needs Chika to explain many of the customs and traditions that stand in his way of unravelling the truth.

As is the case with many first-in-a-series novels, there’s a fair bit of exposition regarding some of the central characters and their relationships; I’m looking forward to the next book which should see Taiwo hitting his stride. I also hope he’s reteamed with Chika, who for me at any rate, had more depth and intrigue about him than the main protagonist.

‘Lightseekers’ by Femi Kayode is published by Raven Books, £13.49 hardback

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