A Guide to the Birds of East Africa, by Nicholas Drayson

2 Stars

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa centers on a wager between Mr. “Jack” Malik and his boarding-school nemesis, Harry Khan, over which one of them can invite the beautiful Rose Mbikwa to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball. The wager involves how many bird species each can count over the period of several days.

I love a great setting, so reading about Kenya was a major positive. I felt like I was in Nairobi alongside Mr. Malik.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book failed to engage me. There weren’t many scenes with emotional resonance, except when Mr. Malik visited an AIDS ward at a hospital.

Part of the problem is that a fair amount of head-hopping took place and the author periodically introduced a first-person singular narrator, who was never identified. It would have been better if the focus had remained on the perspectives of Mr. Malik and Harry Khan. Also, there were so many minor characters, to the point of confusion.



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