Lisa Gordon’s novel is a fine example of the storyteller’s art. She creates characters, situations and atmosphere that draw you in and make you hungry to discover exactly where the story is going. Ranging from South Africa to London, most of the action takes place in Dubai, and the combination of wealth, glitzy nightspots, drugs and unusual deaths keep you guessing from start to finish.
Valda is a singer, escaping from a long-term relationship that has just ended - by taking a well-paid gig at a nightclub and restaurant in Dubai. Her feisty self-confidence and instinctive independence make her highly suspicious of the nightclub’s owner, the fabulously wealthy Sheikh Abdullah. He asks her first to do some ‘shopping’ for him: something for ‘sciatica relief’ from an out of the way health store in Cape Town. After a nerve-wracking initial journey to locate the shop, and a preliminary look around, she finally screws up the courage to buy the ‘medicine’, which turns out to be white powder that she guesses must be cocaine.
Ever resourceful, she disguises the stuff as a gift, complete with ribbon, and finds some dog repellent to throw the drug- sniffing canines off the scent on her return flight to Dubai. The Sheikh shows his gratitude by installing Valda in one of his swish apartments and giving her an extravagant sports car. Meanwhile, someone keeps sending her clippings from old newspapers describing suspicious deaths and disappearances of ex-pats in Dubai.
Helped by a new friend Lara, Valda still has a few more crises to weather before she can escape the increasingly dangerous world she now inhabits. And there are many twists and unexpected turns before the startling, unanticipated denouement.
Lisa Gordon’s South African accent is perfect for this tale - a refreshing change from British or American English - and she reads like a real pro (though her British regional accents might do with some coaching). Notwithstanding, A Sealed Fate is a fast and furious and intriguing ride.
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