The Mine

Kenneth C Ryeland
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Genre: Thrillers and Suspense. Format: Multiple. Views: This Week 81, Total 3266.
"The Mine" is a political thriller set in Nibana, an imaginary West African state, several years after gaining independence from the British in 1962. With the Eastern Region about to secede and Nibana heading for civil war, the head of state invites an archaeology professor and his team to investigate some ruins in the Northern Region. The professorís astonishing finds initiate a chain of extraordinary events that lead to abduction. A police investigation ensues, but becomes complicated when an Eastern Bloc country is commissioned to print currency for the secessionists, and an MI6 agent, working with the police, must hinder the secession by sabotaging the currency. An abandoned mine becomes the focal point when the agent, police and archaeologists are incarcerated there and discover its secret. Murder, breathtaking corruption, river pirates and rogue army officers; Ken Ryeland manipulates these ingredients in his usual consummate way to provide an exciting political thriller.
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Very Good Story, Very Well Written, Recommended, Very Well Edited in 2 reviews.
Ian Miller : The story is set in the early 1960s in the Republic of Nibana, a fictional country, but which bears a certain resemblance to Nigeria, including in the map where the river delta looks suspiciously like the Niger. Nibana is somewhat simplified in that there are only three major "tribes", of which the two major ones (as far as the story goes) are the Usmars in the north and the Obis in the south east. Like Nigeria, the Usmars are Muslims, while the Obis appear to be Christian. In Nibana, after various coups, the Usmars rule during the period of the story, but the Obis, which have the oil in their region, intend to secede.

The plot is somewhat unbelievable at first. Each of the three "districts" is ruled by a governor, with the Usmar ruler nominally ruling all. The purpose of being a ruler is to loot the Treasury. Below that are scheming "assistants", generally corrupt (except for the Usmar one), and the worst is the Obi Major Chukwu, who double deals everybody. Being wealthy is dangerous, because Chukwu will arrest you, with all wealth supposedly going to the state, but actually to a certain bank balance. The book is one continual mix of corruption, stupidity, naivety, and sudden extreme violence. Life has no value here. I said the plot is somewhat unbelievable, however if you look carefully at what happened in Africa following decolonization, the evidence suggests the basic disasters and corruption are only too believable.

The writing is clear, production clean, and it is very easily read. The style is somewhat light-handed, and there seems to be a touch of despair as the author tells his story. Much of the story is told, rather than shown, but much of this is exemplary. There are many times when telling moves the story far better, and the author does this very well. However, my view is that the telling here was a little overdone, since to get a strong emotional response, showing usually works far better and there are places, such as Briggs last appearance, where the potential for emotional involvement by the reader is lost. In many ways, after correcting for the changed circumstances fifty years later, the style and purpose of this book has a certain amount in common with the writings of Edgar Wallace. The characters are well presented, although one suspects a certain degree of caricature, particularly with the British High Commissioner. All in all, an enjoyable book although it leaves the reader shaking his or her head about governance in newly decolonized Africa.

Paul Smith : This is a book set in post colonial Africa in a fictitious country that looks just like Nigeria. It weaves its way through all of the problems that Africa has had since the end of the empire and paints a tale of intrigue, corruption and how absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

It is an exciting book and one that I couldn't put down once I had started. The author is thorough and wraps everything up nicely at the end - probably too nicely for I felt I would like to read another book in the series when I had finished.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes intrigue with only soft violence, necessary for the plot, and a far reaching thread of stories that come together nicely at the end.