- Expected 4 Feb 2021
'A superb novel – so inventive. Brilliant' Harriet Tyce
'Unlike anything else you'll read' William Ryan
Winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize, Lightseekers is the start of a major new crime series introducing investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo.
When three young students are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, their killings - and their killers - are caught on social media. The world knows who murdered them; what no one knows is why.
As the legal trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo is contacted by the father of one of the boys, desperate for some answers to his son's murder. But Philip is an expert in crowd behaviour and violence, not a detective, and after travelling to the sleepy university town that bore witness to the killings, he soon feels dramatically out of his depth.
Will he finally be able to uncover the truth of what happened to the Okiri Three?
Kayode debuts with an intriguing if uneven crime novel set in contemporary Nigeria. A prominent banker, whose son was one of three undergraduates "beaten, broken, and burnt alive" by an angry mob in the university town of Okriki, asks "investigative psychologist" Philip Taiwo to find out what really happened. Footage of the crime is widely shared on social media, and a number of people are arrested and tried, but no reasonable motive emerges. In Okriki, Taiwo slowly, and cleverly, pulls the veil back on violent, secret societies of college-age men, discovering resonance between mob violence in Nigeria and lynchings in the American South. As sociology, the book is fascinating, but as a novel it flags; the narrative isn't tight and the victims get lost in the shuffle. Moreover, there's a substantial disconnect between the horrific crimes and Taiwo's jokey commentary on his own life. Though Kayode creates occasional suspense and a powerful sense of place, the story fails to gel. Those curious about Nigerian culture and politics will be most satisfied. Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated the author of this book used a pseudonym.