When Dr Philip Taiwo is called on by a powerful Nigerian politician to investigate the public torture and murder of three university students in remote Port Harcourt, he has no idea that he’s about to be enveloped by a perilous case that is far from cold.
Philip is not a detective. He’s an investigative psychologist, an academic more interested in figuring out the why of a crime than actually solving it. But when he steps off the plane and into the dizzying frenzy of the provincial airport, he soon realizes that the murder of the Okriki Three isn’t as straightforward as he thought. With the help of his loyal and streetwise personal driver, Chika, Philip must work against those actively conspiring against him to parse together the truth of what happened to these students.
Winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize, Lightseekers is the start of a major new series by debut author Femi Kayode that explores identity and the dangers of misinformation.
When Phillip returns to his home in Lagos with his family after spending time in the US, he is treated as an outsider by the locals. Identity is a large theme in this book and Kayode handles it masterfully with the brutal interactions between Phillip and the vast ensemble of characters we meet in Lagos.
Kayode knows how to bring a city to life. Lagos is gritty, wild, and unpredictable, and as the murders unfold, the city becomes more and more terrifying. I didn’t know much about Lagos or Nigeria before reading Lightseekers, but with the help of Kayode, I now feel like I’ve spent weeks there taking in every sight and sound of this dynamic city.
Something I found really interesting was how Kayode tackles themes of social media misinformation and corruption throughout the novel. It gives the gruesome murders a sense of relevance and relatability. The killings themselves are based off of real-world events which only adds to the spine-tingling tension that the author weaves throughout the story.
A thrilling and atmospheric mystery, and an unforgettable portrait of the contemporary Nigerian socio-political landscape, Lightseekers is a wrenching debut that tackles the porousness between the first and third worlds, the enduring strength of tribalism and homeland identity, and the human need for connection in the face of isolation.