Owen Keane wants to disappear. After witnessing a suicide for which he feels responsible, he can’t seem to shake the feeling of despair. But when he is told that an old acquaintance of his, Father Swickard, is in trouble, and Keane is the priest’s only hope, he travels to Nairobi to help. After all, what better place is there to disappear?

But Keane soon discovers that what he was told was “a matter of life and death” doesn’t seem to fit the bill- and all he finds in Kenya is the same prickly priest he knew back home, and a mysterious sword that seems to have disappeared into thin air.

The weapon, known as the Sword of Wauki, belonged to an old-time chief of the region. Now, a local man is going about claiming to be the ancient leader reincarnate, and demands the return of the sword- or else.

But when the new Wauki winds up dead, Father Swickard is imprisoned, and Keane must get to the bottom of it all and find the real killer.

Along the way, he befriends a bright young boy named Basil, who acts as his guide as they search for the sword. Together they encounter a mish-mash of local characters, including a spiritual mystic known as Mugo, and attempt to avoid violent land raiders who have been burning local villages.

Eastward in Eden offers an interesting glimpse into life in Kenya, from the beauty of the land and it’s people, to the instability and violence which haunt the region, a place steeped in superstitions and poverty.

The main character, Owen Keane’s sense of numbness towards life, evident in his desire to “disappear” in the African continent, was well-portrayed throughout the book and left me with a haunting feeling. In the end, the case helps clear his conscience and restores his will to live. 

I only wish that the author had taken more time to better develop the various characters Keane encounters throughout the book, some of which are only vaguely described and therefore harder to visualize as you read through the story. However, I did enjoy a lot of things about this book, especially the transformation of the main character, and the spunky inquisitiveness of Basil.  If you are looking for a mystery that is a little bit different, or books that look at the larger questions in life, I would definitely recommend this one.

Rating: 3.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

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