I love to read and I love to discover new authors. Accidental Assassin was originally published in 2006 and then republished in 2011. What attracted me to this book was the unusual storyline, how could Chris Elgood possibly pull off a story chronicling how a young girl growing up in a remote part of Africa possibly morph into a much in demand assassin in the UK?
A cardinal rule in writing is to select subjects that you have some knowledge about. Oh donâ€™t get me wrong, I am not saying that you have to be an assassin to write about the subject, rather that you need some experience with the places and their social makeup to create a convincing backdrop.
It transpires that Chris Elgood has â€˜the write stuffâ€™. I did a little online digging and found this interesting snippetâ€¦
Conventional English middle-class. School. University. Stores supervisor in tribal area of the Lozi people (Barotseland) on the upper Zambesi. Schoolteacher (New Zealand). Civil Servant (Northern Rhodesia/Zambia).Â Industrial training executive (STC & GKN). Lecturer (Police Staff College).
So lets get back to Accidental Assassin. The main character is Nahila Marghrita Ileloka, who spends her early years growing up in a remote village in Central Africa. Her life is unlike the other children, she finds herself with an unlikely protector and guardian, the local Witchdoctor, Kwaname. She is indeed viewed as the sorcerers apprentice and so treated with deference. This view becomes even more evident with the demise of a cattle thief following a ritual.
But there is far more to Ileloka than witchcraft, she is a bright girl and unlike many other children successfully completes what we in the US would call High School. Her grades are so high that she is offered a scholarship to the London School of Economics in the UK and on completion, goes on to obtain an MBA.
Of course even with a full scholarship there is little money for lifeâ€™s pleasures, most students take part jobs as waiters or bartenders, but not Ileloka. She instead finds a more lucrative way of paying the bills.
To share more of the plot would spoil it for the reader, so instead I will offer some general observations. While Accidental Assassin is a work of pure fiction Chris Elgood hits on a number of very thought provoking concepts. Not least of which is the role that superstition, magic, or even religion plays in society. Is it real, or is it a state of mind?
He also poses the question, can an assassin be on the side of good? His heroine Nahila Marghrita Ileloka is after all a thief, a thief of life. Is this ever an acceptable solution? Some will argue no, and some will argue yes.
Accidental Assassin is a fascinating read, and the first in a trilogy of tales using Ileloka. It is well constructed, the plot runs well, and the character development deserves praise. This is a book that has wide appeal. Rather than wallow in sex, bad language and gratuitous violence (as many authors love to do), Chris Elgood takes the high road, staying firmly with the story not the blood, gore and titillation. I salute him for doing that! It is a refreshing change.
You can order your own copy of Accidental Assassin by clicking on the Amazon link above. Chris Elgood also has a supporting web site.