The Snowman Of Zanzibar
Ex Rhodesian soldier Jason Green was frustrated and mildly depressed. The winter in London had been long and bitterly cold. The steady work as a freelance insurance fraud investigator was mundane and repetitive. This tedious monotony suddenly changes early on a frigid February morning when he is summoned to the offices of a wealthy investment banker in the City. The brief , to ascertain the source of the unanticipated wealth of the man’s high flying young son. The time frame , urgent. The payout , enormous. Inspired and rejuvenated , Green takes the job immediately. The roller coaster ride that follows takes Jason Green from the grimy streets of London to the beaches of Cape Town and ultimately to the dark tropical jungles of the spice island of Zanzibar. Intrigue , chaos , murder , betrayal and revenge follow swiftly as a series of unfortunate events unfold. Events far beyond Green’s control. Events that result in unspeakable violence and horror. The action comes hard and fast in this page turner and culminates in an ending that will leave the reader breathless.
Gordon Wallis’ The Snowman of Zanzibar is a fantastic story that hits all the right buttons for a thriller mystery. While the story proceeds at a fairly fast pace, the telling of it is anything but rushed. The book goes along at a pace that feels almost sluggish until you think about what has happened so far. However, despite the fact that it feels like it’s taking forever to get anywhere, the story and writing are compelling enough that you keep going. The writing reminds me of Jon Land’s Blaine McCracken series. The investigation and mystery are far more important than the action, but the action is integral to the resolution.
I think what really made the story something that I had to finish was the way that Richard and Jason start to become part of each others’ lives. The wall between investigator and target begins to crumble. This is where you start to really see the growth in Jason. In all his interactions with others, he keeps his distance. He never has a moment where he meets friends, leading to a very lonely and depressing picture of his life. The accidental friendship he cultivates with Richard, his target, seems entirely out of character for the man in London. However, you can see that the Jason Green of London is not the same Jason Green in Africa. The bits of him that were suppressed by his exile to the UK seem to come out more and more. Interestingly enough, he doesn’t turn into the hardened spec ops character of his past. Death and torture affect him in very real ways, and his friendship with Richard turns the job into something very personal. However, it is this training that makes the whole story plausible, as without it his reactions to what happens on Zanzibar would be largely different.
Wallis takes care and time in setting up the entire story. What feels like a sluggish start to the story is actually a well-crafted backstory. Wallis drops minor details that seem unimportant, but generally come out later as the key to understanding motivations for Jason as well as extremely well-hidden foreshadowing.
I really enjoyed this read. It’s been a long time since I’ve delved into this sort of story and I realized, again, why I liked it. I definitely found it hard to put down and recommend it for anybody who likes realistic characters and some action with your mystery.
Gordon Wallis is a 50 year old author based in Zimbabwe , Southern Africa. Born of British parents he has lived there all his life. A keen reader of thriller novels , particularly those set in Africa , he has travelled extensively in Africa , Europe , The Middle East and Asia. He runs a number of businesses in Zimbabwe and is single.