Making Wolf by Tade Thompson was a gritty, dark and suspenseful African noir novel that I couldn’t put down. It’ll have you looking over your shoulder due to the amount of tension that is created.
The story is set in a fictionalized Nigeria known as Alacia. This is a place where violence and murder are the norm, bribery and corruption continues to escalate leading to a spiral of lies and chaos.
“Nobody ever welcomed you to Ede City; they just informed you that you had arrived and left you to fight or fall. Nobody wanted to be here; they only travelled. Like UN peacekeepers. Like UNESCO. Like me.”
The stories main character, Weston Kogi has just returned for the funeral of his foster mother Aunt Blossom. Aunt Blossom helped Kogi and his sister Lynn escape to London and get away from all of the violence. Now back in his home town of Ede, Kogi bumps into Churchill aka “Church” at the funeral. Church was Weston’s childhood bully making his life hell during school. Nervous at seeing Church again, Weston lies and claims he is a Homicide Detective in the Met Police. However, he is merely a supermarket store detective. This comes back to bite him in the ass many times as he kidnapped by a group called The Christian People’s Liberation Army. Their leader Osa Ali instructs Weston to solve and investigate the murder of Enoch Olubusi who is a government figure and somewhat of a saint.
Thus, we follow Weston as he falls deeper down the rabbit hole of Acacia as he must crisscross between two murderous rebel factions the LFA (Liberation Front of Alcacia) and the PCA (People’s Christian Army). Both of these groups see Weston as the perfect tool in investigating the murder of Enoch Olubusi and also for their own agendas. Weston’s investigation activities also see him catch the unwanted eye of the secret police who also attempt to use him for their own agenda. The deeper Weston falls the more he loses a sense of normality and his values on what is right and wrong. He will come face to face with murderous assassin’s and corrupt officials and will also have to cross the line and his own values in order to survive.
This was an absolutely exceptional and intense novel that I couldn’t put down. I loved the intense atmosphere and the feeling of dread around every corner that awaited Kogi. The paranoia Kogi feels was something that was instantly absorbed by me because of the sheer intensity
“I checked the gun clip. Paranoia was addictive.”
I loved how Weston had to question whether to stay on the path of good or the path of violence. He literally goes through a lot of shit which raised the bar due to the sheer feeling of dread. I kept worrying about his character as he isn’t a detective nor does he know how to use a gun. So obviously I was nervous for him🤦🏽♂️. But soon you fear for Weston in the sense that he soon retorts to having to use violence and whatever is necessary to get the job done.
But again this raises the question of ones morality. We believe in ourselves that what we are doing is not the same as others. However, we end up contradicting ourselves doing those actions we argue we would never do. This is essentially the case for Weston who believes he is doing good, but instead it could be argued his actions are the same if not as worse as the people who are fuelling violence and corruption.
This conflict of self is something Weston must deal with throughout the story and come to terms with as pointed out by his sister in a text he receives once he arrives in Alacia
You’re a Yoruba man. Alcacia is your home. You’re only renting England. Stop whining, Weston. I love you. X
The writing in my opinion was also very addictive, descriptive and engaging which made it an even more perfect read for me. Even though it’s dark it’s mixed with lot of dark humour which lightened the mood but didn’t take away from the grittiness of the story. There are also a lot of really great side characters such as Nana, Kogi’s love interest and his ex who he jilted to go off to London. We also have Diane who is Obsusi’s second wife and Church who scared the shit out of me and was an intimidating figure throughout the story.
“Church was the meanest person I had ever met in my life, and that is saying something. He had made my life unbearable as a child, yet here he was. I had like two inches on him now but back then he towered over me.”
I also loved the setting of Alacia. It was so dark and felt kind of like the wild wild west. Corruption and violence is rife in Alcacia with warring factions at each other’s throats. The incorporation of the Yoruba language was something I enjoyed and the setting feel more authentic.
“‘Abo oro la nso f ’omo luwabi. To ba de inu e, a di odindi.’ A hint is all you need give a good person. It grows into full knowledge inside them.”
Overall, I 100% recommend this book! I found it to be an easy novel to immerse myself into. It’s dark, gritty and highly entertaining. Basically, everything hoped for in a noir novel and I am keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that Tade Thompson writes more of these books.
Thank you to Nazia and Orbit for the Net Galley copy. I’m grateful as always. The book will be released on the 7th of May 😊