Congo Dawn (Katherine Scholes, Viking)
Gunfire and grenades. Suffering and bravery. Fathers and daughters. In her seventh adult novel, Katherine Scholes (author of The Rain Queen, The Stone Angel and The Perfect Wife) again draws on her childhood in Tanzania to deliver a page-turning adventure, powered by a quest for love, identity and humanity amid the unique beauty of its African setting. The story follows Anna, a secretary in 1960s Melbourne, who journeys to the Congo to meet the mysterious father she’s never known, and unknowingly finds herself caught up in a war. Inspired by true events, the author portrays the bloodshed and horror of the Congo’s civil conflict. Battle scenes, atrocities, mystery and the role of a mercenary commando unit add to the drama, as does the pull of familial love. Scholes weaves in the politics of the era, the exploitation and effects of colonialism, and highlights the extreme imbalance of wealth. While there is no romance between star-crossed lovers, romance can be found in the heroism, emotion and location. Highly recommended for those who like to escape into a story, this is well-written general fiction, suitable for a wide spectrum of readers who enjoy historical settings and can tolerate some violence. It should also appeal to fans of Scholes’ other books and Africana authors such as Wilbur Smith and Tony Park.
Joanne Shiells is a freelance writer and editor and former retail book buyer