A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS
Raybourn evokes setting and mood beautifully, whether in Victorian England or Jazz Age Africa, so it is surprising that here her characters are shallow, lacking her usual depth. It isn’t until late in the story that she presents a glimpse into the hearts of the hero and heroine. There are wonderful moments of self-discovery, and the exotic backdrop is gracefully portrayed, yet readers may wish for more.
Following in her much-married mother’s footsteps, Delilah Drummond scandalizes Parisian society and is banished to her stepfather’s Kenyan plantation, Fairlight. The sun-parched land and manor house are the perfect setting for expatriates who have formed their own dissolute society where jazz and gin reign. Ryder White stands out against this wild crowd. He becomes Delilah’s guide into the real African landscape: the exotic animals, the beauty of the land and the culture. Then, tragedy strikes and she’s accused of murder. Delilah is compelled to choose what she believes is worth fighting for. (MIRA, May, 350 pp., $15.95)