Review

Lords of Corruption

by Kyle Mills

Kyle Mills of late seems to be prescient in his selection of
novel plots. His previous work, DARKNESS FALLS, dealt with a
virulent attack on oil reserves and was published just as gas
prices were rising to $100 a barrel --- approximately one year
after it was written. His new novel, LORDS OF CORRUPTION, is set in
Africa and deals with a dictator who is engaged in a genocidal
policy against a resident tribe --- just as there is renewed
interest in and attention paid towards human rights violations in
Sudan. Fortunately for his readers, Mills’s prosaic talents
are every bit as sharp and clear as his apparent visions into the
future.

LORDS OF CORRUPTION is a stand-alone work seen primarily through
the eyes of Josh Hagarty, an interesting study in contrasts who
refuses to let an impoverished background, bad luck and worse
decisions get him down. The resident of an area that seems to be a
kissing cousin to Appalachia, if not a full-shirted relative,
Hagarty in his youth often let poor judgment get the better of him,
resulting in some prison time that got in the way of his academic
career. Putting his past behind him and both shoulders to a very
tough wheel, he has more than redeemed himself, earning a
master’s degree with hard work, which he is more than willing
and able to transfer to the service of an employer. Part of
Hagarty’s motivation is inspired by his younger sister, who
shows similar academic promise but who needs to get out of the home
environment that dragged Hagarty down. He soon finds, though, that
employers uniformly balk at his history of incarceration.

It is almost too good to be true when Hagarty is approached by
Stephen Trent and offered a position that seemingly will solve all
of his problems. Trent represents NewAfrica, a small charity that
oversees self-help projects in Africa. While the salary is
relatively small, Hagarty’s room, board and expenses will be
covered, and, more importantly, the charity will pay for his
sister’s tuition and expenses at an Ivy League university.
Yet, almost from the moment that Hagarty lands in Africa, he is
astounded by the degrees of poverty, corruption and casual
brutality he encounters there, which seems to be aided and abetted
by NewAfrica itself. Hagarty is warned against digging too deeply
into anything or impeding the flow of how things “work”
there.

However, when he stumbles upon the results of a horrible,
government-sponsored atrocity, he has no choice but to fight back.
Assisted by an aid worker who has selflessly worked in Africa for
years, he nonetheless seems to be swimming against a current that
will drag him down and endanger his sister back in the United
States. First and foremost, he is a quick study and did not waste
his time in prison. Possessed of a quiet cunning that is buried
beneath a deceptively peaceful demeanor, Hagarty, almost alone in a
nation that is as strange to him as he is to it, begins to fight
back against seemingly insurmountable odds, while his fate ---
along with his sister’s and that of a nation --- hangs in the
balance.

Mills knows Africa well, having spent a significant amount of time
living there over the last several years. Thus, he infuses his
narrative with a real-world vision of the continent and its
seemingly insurmountable problems. LORDS OF CORRUPTION comes at a
particularly important time, and while it wisely does not attempt
to promulgate any particular message, there is much food for
thought --- subtle and otherwise --- presented here.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 6, 2011

Lords of Corruption
by Kyle Mills

  • Publication Date: March 24, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vanguard Press
  • ISBN-10: 1593154992
  • ISBN-13: 9781593154998