Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills is an exciting international political thriller set mostly in Africa. The story opens with an ominous, violent preface that sets a dark tone for the novel. Then, the story shifts to another characters, Josh, who is having a miserable time finding a job, despite his near-perfect GPA as an undergraduate engineering major and now with an MBA. Josh has one felony blemish on his record that makes him undesirable, even next to his otherwise shining record. A recruiter for a charity, New Africa, approaches Josh with a unique opportunity to be a project manager for the charity in Africa.
Here's what the publisher has to say:
"When an obscure charity recruits Josh Hagarty to manage their activities in a war-torn region of Africa, he is eager to sign on and atone for a past he regrets. After a lifetime of bad luck, someone is finally giving him a chance. All he has to do is not blow it.
He tries to lose himself in his new job, but soon the precariousness of his situation becomes impossible to ignore. Gideon, the man assigned to guide him through the dangerous and exotic world he's been thrust into, is revealed to be a psychotic thug with ties to the country's genocidal dictator. And Josh's predecessor didn't quit as he'd been led to believe, but was found dismembered in the jungle after asking questions that no one wanted answered.
When the life of his young sister in the United States is threatened by the organization, Josh is forced to face the fact that his employer may not be the benevolent charity it claims to be. Worse yet, Josh realizes he has become an unwitting player in a billion-dollar conspiracy with tentacles snaking across the globe. Escape is impossible -- the only way out is to bring the whole institution down.
With the help of Annika Gritdal, a beautiful Scandinavian aid worker, and journalist JB Flannary, Josh pits himself against an American criminal organization backed by a dictator who is virtually omnipotent within the borders of his country. As his own survival becomes less and less likely, Josh realizes that his life is just one of thousands -- perhaps millions -- at stake."
Lords of Corruption reads almost like a movie script. It's a lushly visual novel, even though I wished some of the violence was not described as vividly as it was (a la Josh Bazell's brilliant, but often cringe-inducing Beat the Reaper). Lords of Corruption is an exciting story, and it raises some interesting issues about the world we live in. It's refreshing to read a novel where the safety of our protagonist is uncertain. This was the first novel by Kyle Mills I read, and I certainly liked it enough to read more. Mills was a Bureau Kid, and I can't help but wonder how many elements of truth found a way into this novel. Regardless of its "truthiness", it's a good read, although I recommend you once you hit the book's midway point, you ensure you have time to finish reading it.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
This book was featured in mailbox delight on March 23, 2009.