Thursday, 9 June 2016

Review of Ikenna Okeh's 'A Bad Time to Die'

If you have ever wanted to quit a job to take up another career path, writing especially, you would understand Luciano, his plights and his frustrations.

Not many times do one get lucky to read a crime story written by a Nigerian author. Ikenna Okeh in 'A Bad Time to Die' has proven that Port Harcourt (Nigeria) is of age to be a setting for crime stories other than the usual militancy crime stories for which the Niger Delta is known. Other authors may have preferred Lagos over Port Harcourt, but Okeh thought better than stick to the general opinion of Lagos being where it all happens in Nigeria. A Bad Time to Die is a sequel to the author's earlier work, 'An Assignment in Owerri'. One wouldn't have known this if the one weren't told and that speaks of Okeh's craftsmanship.   

A Bad Time to Die is Ikenna Okeh's fourth published novel. His other works, An assignment in Owerri, The Chronicles of Romeo, Man Must Whack have gained him attention and secured him a slot as one of the Nigerian authors to be associated with great writing skills. His expertise is in writing crime stories and this he does justice to. Bones and Closets is in the pipeline and it's one novel to readily expect.   

A lot of expectations is therefore heaped on him and he didn't disappoint. Petty thievery which is one of the realities of the ghetto areas in Nigeria was brought to view in A Bad time to Die. Ekpeyong is one of the many teenage thieves that roam the streets of Port Harcourt and had stolen from Luciano. Luciano only understood  the Nigeria Police Force incompetence when he had reported to the police and all they did was to arrest young boys from the neighborhood. Such incidents is not unusual in Port Harcourt and some other parts of Nigeria. But, a lot of authors seem not to have interest in putting them up in stories. This speaks of the author's attention to details and efforts to paint reality as it is.

Illegal sale and purchase of stolen laptops and devices is one thing that happens in Nigeria and a lot of the second hand electronic wares are acquired through this means. Okeh brought this to bare by hinting how Ekpeyong had sold off Luciano's laptop to Michael, a computer hardware dealer. Luciano as expected was frustrated to discover that his soon to kick off career as a writer has been marred by the loss of his laptop which contained his written works, not backed up. This same laptop has moved from Ekpeyong to Michael and to Mustapha in less than a week. In an attempt to recover his laptop, Luciano assisted by Aniete (a colleague and his Boss' son),  stepped on the toes of Mustapha, an assassin on a mission.   

The battle to save dear life began, as Luciano and Aniete discovered their misdeeds. They must live, they must keep Chief Ofodile (Aniete's father) out of the situation, they must find a way out of the mess they got themselves in. The assassin, Mustapha must finish his mission, his cover must not get blown. He can't leave Luciano and Aniete go scot-free. There the twists and turns began.   

Willis Batista represented the militant giant of the Niger Delta, this story wouldn't have been complete if this character wasn't represented. Militancy is one of the sad realities of the Niger Delta region. The story would have lost its' actuality were the life threatening and endangering militancy situation omitted. The author of course revealed the kind of risk militants put themselves through in their 'activism'. As they draw not just the wrath of the government, but that of the interested political partisans, which Mustapha's contractor represents.   

The rather saddening political ideology of most Nigerian politicians was discussed in this story. There's no gain saying that the Nigeria government is crippled due to the wrong perception of leadership and politics upheld by Nigeria politics players. To Chief Ofodile, politics is a game to prove his worth as a big business player in the country. He said to Aniete, '... but, I want you to see it this way; politics, to me is business. In this country, there is no high player in business who isn't knee deep into politics.' The clerics involvement in politics is one aspect of the Nigeria political scene and this was represented by Rt. Rev. Simeon Nnamdi.   

Okeh was able to make us turn pages with this masterpiece. One of the beauties of a crime story is the fear that it wells up in its' readers, the way it makes them feel their pulse rise and ironically yearn for more still. A Bad Time to Die is one book that should be stored in every e-library as the book is only available in e-book formats.

Check out to purchase A Bad Time to Die or any of the author's book.


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  2. One thing I like about Ikenna is his 'it-is-possible' spirit even in the midst of thick and thin challenges. Nice works from Ikenna and Victor.