- Published on Amazon.com
Kyle Mills of late seems to be prescient in his selection of novel plots. His previous work, DARKNESS FALLS, dealt with a virulent attack on oil reserves and was published just as gas prices were rising to $100 a barrel --- approximately one year after it was written. His new novel, LORDS OF CORRUPTION, is set in Africa and deals with a dictator who is engaged in a genocidal policy against a resident tribe --- just as there is renewed interest in and attention paid towards human rights violations in Sudan. Fortunately for his readers, Mills's prosaic talents are every bit as sharp and clear as his apparent visions into the future.
LORDS OF CORRUPTION is a stand-alone work seen primarily through the eyes of Josh Hagarty, an interesting study in contrasts who refuses to let an impoverished background, bad luck and worse decisions get him down. The resident of an area that seems to be a kissing cousin to Appalachia, if not a full-shirted relative, Hagarty in his youth often let poor judgment get the better of him, resulting in some prison time that got in the way of his academic career. Putting his past behind him and both shoulders to a very tough wheel, he has more than redeemed himself, earning a master's degree with hard work, which he is more than willing and able to transfer to the service of an employer. Part of Hagarty's motivation is inspired by his younger sister, who shows similar academic promise but who needs to get out of the home environment that dragged Hagarty down. He soon finds, though, that employers uniformly balk at his history of incarceration.
It is almost too good to be true when Hagarty is approached by Stephen Trent and offered a position that seemingly will solve all of his problems. Trent represents NewAfrica, a small charity that oversees self-help projects in Africa. While the salary is relatively small, Hagarty's room, board and expenses will be covered, and, more importantly, the charity will pay for his sister's tuition and expenses at an Ivy League university. Yet, almost from the moment that Hagarty lands in Africa, he is astounded by the degrees of poverty, corruption and casual brutality he encounters there, which seems to be aided and abetted by NewAfrica itself. Hagarty is warned against digging too deeply into anything or impeding the flow of how things "work" there.
However, when he stumbles upon the results of a horrible, government-sponsored atrocity, he has no choice but to fight back. Assisted by an aid worker who has selflessly worked in Africa for years, he nonetheless seems to be swimming against a current that will drag him down and endanger his sister back in the United States. First and foremost, he is a quick study and did not waste his time in prison. Possessed of a quiet cunning that is buried beneath a deceptively peaceful demeanor, Hagarty, almost alone in a nation that is as strange to him as he is to it, begins to fight back against seemingly insurmountable odds, while his fate --- along with his sister's and that of a nation --- hangs in the balance.
Mills knows Africa well, having spent a significant amount of time living there over the last several years. Thus, he infuses his narrative with a real-world vision of the continent and its seemingly insurmountable problems. LORDS OF CORRUPTION comes at a particularly important time, and while it wisely does not attempt to promulgate any particular message, there is much food for thought --- subtle and otherwise --- presented here.