Genre Fiction: Mystery, romance.
Blurb “Tayo Dabi, rising star at the only detective agency in Sonowea State, Nigeria, loves her job and believes she is good at it. Her confidence is, however, rocked when she investigates the murder of a successful and wealthy contractor. Her encounters with the beautiful grieving widow and the handsome brother of the murder victim leave her intrigued. Distractions by several other cases that showcase the underbelly of a beautifully realised fictional city of Sonowea do not put Tayo off the scent of the contractor’s murderer, and the novel comes to a crescendo of an ending. An amalgam of romance and thriller, Chasing Facades is about betrayed trust, rage, and love and the facades we put up to hide our true selves. Elizabeth Adeolu, in her first novel, already shows signs of being a master of the genre novel.”
Dialogue Well written and engaging.
Themes Justice; Good vs evil; Family; Bereavement; Materialism.
Editing Mostly well edited, a couple of errors.
Plot Tayo Dabi, a 22 year old rookie detective working for Regent Detective Agency, a private detective agency, is in charge of investigating the murder of Lawrence Gbade, a wealthy 46 year old business man. It’s Tayo’s first solo case. The two people who stand to gain the most from Lawrence’s death are his wife, Lilly and his brother, Tony, whom Tayo is attracted to. But there’s also his sister-in-law, Rose (Lilly’s fraternal twin) who it seems, didn’t get along well with Lawrence. Other suspects include a disgruntled business partner and a former employee sacked for misconduct. Whodunnit?
What worked? Written in clear and easy to follow English, the book is narrated from the perspective of the protagonist, Tayo. As with Mystery books, we are quickly introduced to the multi-dimensional characters. No character is all good or all bad, which keeps one intrigued until the end.
Tayo has her hands full with the suspects in the case and everyone seems to have a solid alibi. Lilly is in love with her husband and swears he is a good man. Tony loves his brother dearly and seems keen for justice to be served, keeping close tabs on Tayo regarding the progress of the case. Understandably, he is unhappy that a rookie has been assigned the case and expresses his dissatisfaction on many occasions.
The book is moderately paced until the end when the pace picks up before the murderer was revealed. We liked the fact that there were other cases which Tayo and RDA had to solve within the time that the Gbade case was ongoing as this helped break up the monotony of finding Lawrence’s killers. It also shed more light on how investigations are conducted, making for a more interesting read.
We liked the fact that the author created a separate private investigative agency which worked in collaboration with the police because that made the plot more credible, as it would have been more difficult to pass off the scenarios and professionalism presented in the book, if it had been written about the Nigerian police. The office politics at RDA is similar to what you will find in many organisations; the camaraderie, envious colleagues, the colleague whose interest is borderline sexual harassment -Dike, the colleague who gets along with everyone – Obi and so on.
Elizabeth’s portrayal of Tayo’s character made us become invested in Tayo, we wanted her to succeed in solving the mystery. We could empathise with her motive for becoming a detective and could identify with her relationships – with her family and colleagues. She has doubts about her abilities, despite her successes so far.
The romance in the novel is understated so that one could get away with referring to this as just mystery. The end of the book left the possibility of a sequel open.
What didn’t work?
Mo Some loose ends when it comes to Tayo’s relationships with her family and her boss. Tayo’s complicated relationship with her sisters ought to have been expanded upon. We’ve been given the impression that “Chief” – the head of RDA, a man of little words likes Tayo, but we do not know why he likes her or why he entrusted her with the responsibility of a solo case before her probation period was over.
Lady B The murderer just seems to fall into our laps in the end. There aren’t clues which helps the reader try to work out who the murderer was. I finished the book before Mo and kept asking her to guess who the murderer was. She couldn’t as she said she needed more evidence. A build up would have been more ideal.
Tayo’s character would have worked better if she was a bit older. She is 22, attended university for four years, served a year of National Youth Service Corp and had already completed a year of training with RDA which would mean she got into university at 16. Not impossible but quite unusual. Also, considering she had to leave home and live on her own in a different city, an older woman would have been more credible.
Page numbers 382
Publisher Farafina Breeze
Damage N500 on Okadabooks
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