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ONE BLOOD
by G. W. Kent
Robinson, June 2012
272 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 1849013411


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Solomon Islands, 1960: Sister Conchita arrives at the Marakozi Mission hoping to re-energise the elderly nuns. Soon after her arrival an American tourist is killed at the Mission church and Sister Conchita sets out to find the reason. She has an ally in local policeman and aofia, traditional justice-bringer, Sergeant Ben Kella, who is charged with investigating attacks on a logging station at a nearby island. While the two events are apparently unconnected, both seem somehow to be related to the arrival of a number of Western visitors who are distinctly outside the normal sort, and a resurgence of interest in a WWII incident in which John F. Kennedy and his crew escaped after their motor-torpedo boat was sunk by the Japanese. The independent investigations of Sister Conchita and Ben Kella bring them into contact with a number of interesting characters and they eventually combine their efforts to reveal what has really been going on.

ONE BLOOD is full of charm: an exotic time and place, engaging and feisty protagonists, and plenty of action, all told with a light touch and a pervasive humour. The author is clearly familiar with the islands and their special characteristics are unobtrusively woven into the tale so the reader is informed without being lectured. While the protagonists have spent time abroad and are people of intelligence and education, the islanders are never cast as ignorant or stupid; respect is shown for their beliefs in a very modern way, and these are explained in a straightforward manner. This informs an understanding of life on the Solomons, and shows how the local way of life is being changed by outside influences, both good and bad. On the downside, the ecological disaster of the logging activities is made explicit, again describing the 1960 situation through the filter of contemporary sensibilities.

The two key characters are both well developed, and interesting enough to sustain a series. Sister Conchita's battle with the elder members of her order is amusing and enjoyable, and her powers of observation, persistence and courage make her an excellent sleuth. Sergeant Kella is even more interesting, bridging the gulf of understanding between a disparaging Western world that regards the islanders as ignorant and backward, and the suspicion of the locals towards outsiders who threaten their traditional values. Kella has acquired two degrees and some expertise in rugby, but this cuts no ice with the police chief who is unable to grasp the value of an aofia in the resolution of local disputes. Luckily, Kella has a phlegmatic manner which enables him to press on regardless and get results.

ONE BLOOD is a very enjoyable read and it is easy to envisage, as the publisher has suggested on the front cover, that the Solomon Islands could be the new Botswana.

Chris Roberts is a retired manager of shopping centres in Hong Kong, and now lives in Bristol, primarily reading.

Reviewed by Chris Roberts, July 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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