The Con Man of Lagos: A Novel of Espionage. Francesca Salerno. Amazon Digital Services. October 2016. 577 KB. ASIN#: B01MAYEND9.
Francesca Salerno’s second espionage novel takes the reader through the realities of terrorism in the world of Boko Haram, a small but dangerous group affiliated with Al Qaeda. Boko Haram is located in Africa, and the plot in Lagos involves a Soviet submarine loaded with nuclear tipped missiles that explodes in the waters around Lagos and the surrounding area. It also concerns their plan to take barrels of sludge-like chemicals siphoned off barrels of gasoline and explode them in an area guaranteed to kill many Nigerians. Although Nigeria financially prospers from the sale of gas and oil to nations around the world, the terrorists believe Nigeria is a superior country that should gain most the benefits of the gold mine to the world.
There is very little action in this novel. However, the essence of its appeal lies in the knowledge of its characters and the expanded knowledge accumulated through the political, military, business and ambassadorial connections. This is a very different style for an espionage novel but one that works well herein. You will meet upper officials of Nigeria’s petroleum business, an ambassador from America who is really a CIA operative, an Imam whose connections make him able to make huge amounts of money and use that money for terrorist purposes, a shady employee who carries out the plans of the Imam but who fails to realize the plot involving a far greater risk until it is too late, a Pakistani ambassador who works for the glory of his country although his job in Lagos is a demotion for getting too cozy with the Americans, and more men and women who are astute chess pieces in a game that’s headed for a showdown between the King and Queen.
Another notable feature of this novel is the characters whose idealism and dedication to the betterment of Nigerian interests supersedes the financial greed or fundamentalist spiritual fanaticism threatening the permanent demise of Nigeria and other global powers. It’s also fascinating to follow the motivations and changing plans of these characters as they coalesce and vie with each other. Sometimes in the real world, volatile terrorism is thwarted, actually more times than is obvious from the news we view or read every day. Francesca Salerno has obviously researched her topic well and been to the setting she so aptly describes. The Con Man of Lagos… is a good read that is recommended for those who like to learn more about this imaginary but all too realistic terror plot!