Another Review at MyShelf.Com

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa

by Nicholas Drayson


Mr. Malik is a member of the East African Ornithological Society, and enjoys his Tuesday morning bird walks.  Not just because of all the birds he sees, but because he is in love with the walk’s guide, Mrs. Rose Mbikwa.  He wants to ask her to the Hunt Ball, but his old school nemesis, Harry Khan, is back in town from his home in America and the two soon become rivals.  Unwisely, Mr. Malik lets it slip about the invitation at his club and soon a wager is made—whichever of the pair sees the most different birds in a week gets to ask Rose to the ball.  Harry is not exactly playing fair, although he is not cheating either, but Mr. Malik has a few ideas of his own.

If you, like this reviewer and many others, are a fan of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and eagerly wait for each new title to come out, then you are sure to enjoy this too.  It's told in the same gentle style, while we also get to learn quite a few things about life in modern Kenya and its amazing birdlife.  There are contrasts with the old Kenya of the Muthaiga Club and the world of the "old hands" and the new Kenya with more equality, but the specter of AIDS and corrupt government.  This is the background to which this cozy and amusing story is set, and the tale itself is not without its poignancy as well as more than one crime.  In short, it is an enchanting combination of realism and good humor, so pour yourself a cup of bush tea and settle in for a good read.  You won’t be disappointed.

The Book

5 March 2009
014103596X / 9780141035963
General Fiction
More at US || UK
NOTE: US edition is different
For a different perspective, check out another Myshelf review of this book

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2009
© 2009