Eastward in Eden
An Owen Keane Mystery
The Mystery Company, October 2013
From the publisher—
Two years after witnessing a devastating suicide, Owen Keane, metaphysical detective, travels to rural Kenya, hoping to lose himself where no one will think to look for him. Instead, he finds another mystery: the murder of charismatic stranger who claimed to be the reincarnation of a long dead warrior hero. To solve the mystery of his own future, Keane must pay for a life with a life.
I have a friend named Jim Huang. Well, “friend” is a term I’m using sort of loosely because Jim and I have known each other almost entirely online over the past 10 or more years but we’ve only met in person a handful of times at various book conventions. Still, even though we don’t have a friendship in the real face-to-face sense, I have a great deal of respect for him, both as a fellow bookseller (former in my case) and a book publisher.
So, when Jim asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of his publications, I jumped at the chance because I know the quality of the books and authors he chooses to work with. (Disclaimer: he’s actually published me in a manner of speaking as I participated in two mystery reference books he put together.) I had never read anything by Terence Faherty but I’d seen Jim promote his books before; Eastward in Eden is the fourth Faherty book Jim has re-issued or published new. I’m happy to say my faith was fully justified.
This is the 8th Owen Keane title so, naturally, I’ve missed a lot of backstory but it really didn’t matter as I never really needed anything more than the hints dropped here and there about Owen’s immediate past. That past is important, though, because he has come to Kenya, very much out of the norm for him, for an unsettling reason. Instead, he finds himself at the heart of a murder investigation very different from any he’s worked on before, and Kenya itself begins to have an unexpected effect on him, especially through the mingling of two faiths that are very different and yet very much the same.
There are aspects of this book that remind me of the Precious Ramotswe series, especially the setting. She’s in Botswana while he’s in Kenya but they share a sense of gentleness and comfort and, well, a feeling of a life that is simple but satisfying, free of the trappings of so-called better societies. Even the murder of a man insisting he is the reincarnation of a warrior hero is down to basics as is the ensuing investigation. The local authorities may not have all the fancy forensics tools but they still manage to find and follow the clues with the not insignificant help of Owen Keane.
Unlike many more sophisticated policemen, Chief Constable Mwarai is willing to include Owen in his investigation when it becomes apparent that this visitor to the area has the intelligence and experience to be of considerable assistance. He’s no “real” detective but he learned a lot by reading his favorite mystery stories. He thinks his way to a solution but not without taking the reader on a bit of a wild ride and the twists and turns kept me guessing all the way; the mix of history, religion, political maneuvers and the taking of land by backhanded and evil means gives Owen a plethora of leads to follow.
This is Terence Faherty‘s first Owen Keane novel in 14 years and while I can’t say it’s been far too long since I haven’t read any of the earlier books, I can declare that I’m very glad to have made Owen Keane’s acquaintance and really hope that Mr. Faherty will continue enchanting new readers and all those who I’m sure have been missing the former seminarian turned detective. As for me, I’m off to find the first title, Deadstick, to start at the beginning of Owen’s journey.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2013.