Rhodesian ex-soldier Victor Kennedy accepts the job of finding the missing son of a prominent businessman. He soon finds himself involved in a dangerous scheme involving stolen nuclear missiles and a plan to destabilise both southern African and Russian politics.
The lines between good guys and bad guys blur as the story moves between locations to reach its thunderous climax.
It’s a little slow to get started but worth persevering through the early stages as Darts of Deceit builds into a gripping thriller with an audacious plot.
Penned by one of Southern Africa’s foremost journalists — and it shows — The Machiavellian Affair is a fast-paced thriller dripping with intrigue, memorable characters and plot-twists that just don’t quit. Historical and political detail as well as local colour are obviously the work of a writer who knows the territory from first-hand experience.
By the time you reach the end, you’ll be bleary-eyed from staying up too late, and wondering how much of it is based on real characters and events that to this day lay hidden in the murky netherworld of international political intrigue.
Southern Africa was cauldron of conflict in the 1980s following the fall of the Portuguese colonial empire and the dogged white rule in Rhodesia. In this stew a small group of hard-core Stalinists saw a way to help regain their power after communism collapsed in Russia by using stolen nuclear missiles to create international chaos.
Victor Kennedy, a young ex-Rhodesian soldier becomes inadvertently enmeshed when he is hired by a British billionaire to find a son missing somewhere in Southern Africa. The search leads him through a tangled mesh of underground movements into war-torn Mozambique, and into a bloody fight where he learns of the Soviet plot … and is captured before he can do anything.
British and American intelligence also learn of the plot and try to turn it around to their advantage, at the cost of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of lives.
The story accelerates through many twists and turns. Kennedy is sent with an old friend, a Mozambican ex-guerilla, to forestall the plotters, which takes them to a spectacular climax in Madagascar.
The writer, Wilf Nussey, is a journalist of forty years experience, most as a foreign correspondent, and most of that in the turmoil of Southern Africa, which he knows intimately.
Darts of Deceit is extremely well written, well researched and based it on his extensive experience as one of those newsmen who was always where the action was, when violence created wave after wave of unrest and the entire southern third of Africa was crawling with spies and agents provocateurs and sinister disappearances that remain unexplained to this day.
I can appreciate craftsmanship when I see it and he is a master story teller worthy of the Fleming/Charteris school.