Margaret Truman’s Allied in Danger (Capital Crimes #30), by Donald Bain

Eight stars

Donald Bain is back with another instalment of the long-running Capital Crimes series. Straddling a legal and mystery genre here, Bain takes the reader on an interesting journey through the world of illicit money schemes. Mac Smith has just agreed to help a new client, whose father was taken in by a Nigerian money scheme, sending his life savings into the African country, before killing himself when he went broke. Smith, unsure if he will be able to help, brings his investigator into the case, in hopes of assisting. Robert Brixton can see this will be an uphill battle, but is always up for a challenge. Brixton turns to a friend of his at the British Embassy, David Portland, who also has an interest in Nigeria, though not for the same reasons. Portland’s son has been over in the country and may have been killed while working for a security company, SureSafe. However, Portland cannot learn anything for sure, until a family heirloom is found on a Nigerian back in D.C. Portland begins to uncover that his son may have died at the hands of a Frenchman who heads up security firm, closely allied with a warlord, whose enterprises include money schemes directed towards the gullible. Armed with a passion to bring justice for his son, Portland and Brixton pool their resources and impetus to head onto the African continent for some answers, though someone lurking in the shadows wants to ensure they end up empty handed and perhaps worse. What may have started out as a simple legal remedy to help a man duped out of his life savings has become a life and death mission for family honour. Trouble is, no one is willing to stick out their heads to help, worried it may be the last thing they do. Bain has pulled another winner out in this series, whose focus has shifted from the strong legal novels to something more focussed on investigation and mystery. Recommended for those who have followed this series for its lengthy run as well as the curious reader who wants a glimpse into the political and social situation of Nigeria.

I have been reading the Capital Crimes series since I discovered Margaret Truman many years ago. That it has reached thirty novels may surprise some, but its ability to morph and keep the reader’s attention speaks volumes to its longevity. Robert Brixton, the creation of Donald Bain when he formally took over the series, is a fabulously developed character. His tough exterior helps push the story along, with grit to get to the heart of the matter. However, the softer side as he still mourns the death of his daughter, pushes through and makes the character more compassionate and worthy of attention. While he may play a minor role in the last few novels, series regular and former protagonist Mac Smith is always a pleasure to see on the page. His anchored approach seeks to allow the law to do battle rather than devious behaviour, but he has a way about him that keeps the reader from rolling their eyes. With a narrative that pushes along and keeps the story fresh, Bain does wonderful things by educating the reader about many of the nuances of Nigeria and some of the vast differences with North American life, which provides a rich plot. Bain shows a dedication to the backstory and weaves it together effectively through a mix of short and longer chapters. The reader cannot get enough as they seek to learn which twists will influence the larger story and which are dead ends to entertain. Bain has kept Truman’s series alive with his own flavour and left series fans fairly impressed. Sadly, with his death, I suppose this is the last instalment in a long-running and highly energetic series.

Kudos, Mr. Bain, for keeping the spirit of Margaret Truman alive. She would be proud with your effort and I know fans of the novels are sure to applaud this effort. I thank you for all the work you did on this series and that you may now rest in peace.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: