I first encountered Chris Elgood with Accidental Assassin. In it the reader encountered his main character Nshila Ileloka, a lady born in a remote African village who, against the odds, had received a western education and the right to place the letters MBA after her name. This plot alone was worthy of a book, Chris of course had other ideas, Nshila’s education and assimilation into the Western culture was merely a backdrop, a teaser to the real story.

Nshila was a lady with secrets, dark foreboding secrets. Her mentor for extracurricular activity while growing up in that remote village had been the local witchdoctor. This placed her in an interesting and unique position. While maybe the term feared by the villagers might be a little too strong, they certainly treated her with respect. This was particularly true when a local cattle thief turns up ‘somewhat less than alive’ following an Nshila intervention.

Chris Elgood had laid the groundwork for his character. Nshila was destined to become an assassin. But as you read his first book Accidental Assassin you begin to understand that while this lady is a ‘gun for hire’, she is not your regular street hood. Targets must deserve to die. I guess you could call her a killer with moral values…

Which brings us to He Only Died Twice. This book has such a great and unusual twisted plot it is hard to know what to say without spoiling the readers adventure.

Nshila is maintaining her aura of legitimacy, running The Rain Consultancy, a company specializing in localized weather forecasts. It is a perfectly legitimate enterprise employing two hard working people, Peter Grace and Gillian Harker. Neither suspect Nshila has an alter ego. Both know that Nshila is a little different from the average boss, but maybe that is just because of her upbringing?

He Only Died Twice finds Nshila with a conundrum. Sure, she is an assassin, but hardly one that seeks out a constant supply of contracts. Like most illegal activities the chances of getting on the authorities ‘radar’ increase with the frequency of the deed. She also has a strong ethic that the person deserves to die. Her victims are those that feel they are above the law. Suddenly she finds herself with two contracts, and both victims are deserving of the ultimate punishment.

One is a rich and successful businessman suspected of selling pretty young western girls into sex slavery. Grant Toppley is both well connected and also a Member of Parliament. He is ‘untouchable’.

The other contract is for one Gerald Tetherman, an importer of hard drugs. A man that has ruined many lives, but he has managed to remain outside of official interest.

Nshila must make a decision, to take one, both, or none of the contracts. Certainly both men deserve her attention, but is it possible or practical to run two projects at the same time?

To share more of the plot would be to do a huge disservice to the reader. Chris Elgood has out done himself with He Only Died Twice. He has developed a wonderful plot, and executes it with style and panache.

You can order your copy of He Only Died Twice by clicking the Amazon link above. While it can be read as a stand alone book, I personally would recommend that you do read Accidental Assassin first, as it gives a great introduction to Nshila Ileloka and what motivates her.

Simon Barrett

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