Wednesday, April 1, 2009 By: Suzanne

Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills

Normally I would include the blurb from the back of the book or the inside jacket but in this case I think it gives way too much away (and is simply too long, who wants to read it?). Lords of Corruption is the latest book by Kyle Mills. He is the New York Times best selling author of Darkness Falls and several other books, although since I had my nose buried in Sci-Fi/Fantasy until recently, I have never heard of him.

Josh Hagarty is a recent MBA graduate with an impressive resume who can't find a job because of his past. He has a sister, Laura, to look after and mounting debt. When an African charity organization offers him not only a job but a way to take of Laura, he jumps on it even though he knows nothing about Africa, charity work, or farming (the job he will be doing). He learns from the very first day that not all is as it seems in Africa and the charity he works for may not be so charitable. It quickly becomes apparent that they may have hired him because of shady past, not in spite of it.

The first few chapters of this book were a little slow going. I think the story gets bogged down in the details for awhile, trying to paint a certain picture. It didn't take long, though, for me to become completely engrossed in the story. When I saw how short the book was (310 pages, hardback, large print) I thought, "I'll have this finished in two days." Not quite, but once I got into it I finished it pretty quick. I just couldn't put it down. I read last night while the t.v. was on. I don't even remember what I was trying to watch! The one thing that was irritating for me in the beginning, helps the story along through the end. The chapters are too short. There are 51 chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. This works out to less than 6 pages per chapter (yes, I'm anal and figured it out). Each change of scenery or thought by the main character gets a new chapter. It makes each chapter ending have the feel of a season ending cliff-hanger on a television series. It gives a constant sense of dread, which is just too dramatic for the beginning of the book, making it ring a little false. It also breaks up the story too much. This works after the action gets going though and there really is something to be dramatic about. At that point it helps the pace move along at a point when it could easily drag.

There were a couple continuity problems that weren't too major but bothered me. Both dealt with his replacing someone else on the project he's hired to work on. In the Prologue, Josh's predecessor dies before the field can be cleared. However, when Josh arrives part of the field is growing corn. The corn is already high enough to be ready for harvest. The rest of the field is being cleared by a team of people working with a variety of hand tools. Exactly how much time has passed? The story is told in a way that a makes it seem like a matter of a couple weeks at most, but there's no way this much work could have been in that time (especially if they;'ve been working with hand tools!). Who was the project manager in between Josh and his predecessor? Why didn't the charity keep that person on if he was doing such a good job? The action and pressure in the story come from Josh discovering what the charity he works for is really up to. These are things they would like to keep hidden from him. If someone else could do this job without compromising their actual agenda, why did they bring Josh in in the first place? There is only one sentence in the book that addresses this. When things are starting to get a little out of hand, Josh's boss says to him, "I don't remember there being these problems when Gideon was in charge." (not a direct quote but close enough, I didn't mark it and can't find it!) Gideon is a relative of the president of the country and Josh's assistant. If Gideon was doing such a good job, why did they need a foreigner in the first place? These questions don't hurt the story but I'm sure it could have been easily explained in just a few lines.

The other related question was dealing with the people clearing and working the field. After tragedy strikes, Josh talks of these people as if people he's been working with them for months so he knows them pretty well. This is not true. He's been there only a few days and spent very little time at the project site. Ok, not a question but an observation.

Except for this continuity problem, I greatly enjoyed this book. I'm not much into mystery and action books, because they are generally predictable and slow. This is neither. I never felt I had all the answers and was just waiting for the author to provide them as I do with most mysteries. For me, that makes great storytelling! The author also has a sense of humor that comes through in the midst of terrible things happening. I'll leave you an example:

His badass act must have been coming off better than he'd expected. Who would ever have thought that things he'd learned in prison would be so much more valuable than things he'd learned in school?