The Battosai’s Review of H.J. Golakai’s The Lazarus Effect

This crime novel is set in Cape Town, about a young, ambitious investigative journalist called Voinjama fondly called Vee. Suffering from a PTSD of sorts, Vee’s seemingly calm life progresses peacefully enough until she starts seeing things- visions of a young girl in a red woollen hat, whom she later identifies to be a Cape Town teenager who left her home on one lovely Saturday and was never seen again.

Two years down the line, the girl- Jacqueline Paulsen- troubles Vee’s sanity and she is prompted to reopen a cold case. While working on her own investigations of missing children in Cape Town, Vee, alongside her fearless assistant Chloe, go on a mission to unravel the mystery behind Jacqui’s disappearance while also juggling two boyfriends, eccentric families (potential suspects actually), getting seriously roughed up and pushing the boundaries of her “I’m-nice-until-I’m-pissed” boss, Portia.

While this novel is not exactly on an Agatha Christie level, it still managed to be attention-grabbing and absorbing. I see it as another one of those feminist pieces that try to portray women as fearless people who stay determined to achieve whatever they set their minds to, regardless of obstacles that may include life-threatening beatings and every other intrigue that comes with dangerous quests.

The novel also has the requisite action, sex and some bits of humour- these features sure keep readers turning the pages, while also entertaining them at the same time. I liked the characters too. They were quite interesting.

I like the way the author married two strong African countries together- Liberia and South Africa. This makes me feel so African and it makes me yearn to explore these countries. I also appreciate the fact that there were other people of colour as well- apart from Vee who is proudly Black, there was Chloe who is white, Vee’s African-American boyfriends and even a German there somewhere. The races were quite diversified.

While I don’t have a lot of demerits to point out in the book, I however, have a few and one of them is the fact that it seemed like an unsure cross between a fantasy/mystery novel and a not-quite-thrilling crime novel. I also find it a bit odd that Vee actually survived all those beatings. Actually, I wonder how she survived them (she must have some sort of superhuman stamina- Wonder woman maybe)

I’ll conclude by saying that though the tone and pace of the novel were not quite 100% for me, it was gripping enough to keep turning the pages. If there will be any, I’m hoping that the sequel(s) will be more intriguing and I’ll definitely love to read it(them).

I’ll give it a healthy 6 out of 10.

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