Femi Kayode’s Gaslight is the Nigerian author’s second novel, a sequel to his rightly praised 2021 debut Lightseekers, with both books following the work of investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo. This time round Taiwo and his faithful assistant Chiko are asked by Taiwo’s sister to look into the arrest of Bishop Dawodu, the pastor of a Nigerian megachurch, on suspicion of doing away with his missing wife. Taiwo is no fan of organised religion but agrees to take the case, and when the pastor’s wife’s body turns up, things get progressively darker.
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Like Lightseekers before it, Gaslight casts a forensic eye over modern Nigeria, exposing the inequality, corruption and power struggles that can affect every layer of society. Prejudice and racism are rife, but don’t always come from the expected sources, and Kayode plays his story with an even hand, avoiding polemic and using Taiwo’s outsider status to carry the emotional weight of his story.
The powerful evocation of today’s Nigeria is one of the strengths of this vivid and immersive novel. Kayode blends the murder case with a subplot around Taiwo’s personal life expertly, layering meaning and resonances into both stories to create a very satisfying whole. Fine stuff.
Doug Johnstone is an author and journalist.