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The Condor and the Hippo


Worth reading 😎

The author gives a true sense of place with lots of local color and vocabulary, but misses the mark in characterization.

The Condor and the Hippo is a thriller set in present-day Zambia. Author Larry Raymond, who apparently spent time there, gives a true sense of place with lots of local color and vocabulary. However, the early part of the book is loaded with dense backstory that slows the progression of the plot as the reader follows Delvin’s lack of headway in accomplishing his goals for helping the tribal peoples living outside the main city. Much of this could have been sprinkled in like pixie dust rather than being so heavily laden in the beginning. I almost stopped reading because of the excessive backstory. Much of the novel is “told” rather than “shown,” which is also somewhat off-putting

Ironically, even minor characters are well-described down to scars on their bodies, but, in general, characters are not well-developed emotionally. 

Subplots abound and bog down and detract from the forward momentum of the actual story. For instance, the two military men who want to use the main event (setting off dirty bombs in the capitol city to force the government to give more aid to the tribesmen in the countryside) to take over the government seemed superfluous. Tom Fowler, an American and his wife, Emma, also seem unessential (except for his role as consultant to the conference). I found it inexplicable that an outsider is the leader of this conference with the inference that no locals are capable of doing so—Tom is sort of a magical white guy who is brought in to help the tribal chiefs solve issues of immigration to the cities and chronic unemployment.

Also, the pacing seems off. For instance, Tom’s trip down the river to Lake Kariba, which should have been nail-bitingly tense, but is relegated to a very brief telling, rather than a showing of how nerve-wracking it is. The book is told in a very distant omniscient point-of-view, so the reader doesn’t really get to know any character very well; despite the heavy backstory provided, there’s no real sense of the characters’ emotions.

Reviewed by

Suanne completed the Stanford University Creative Writing Certificate program. Her debut women’s fiction novel, A Different Kind of Fire, explores the life of a nineteenth century bisexual artist living in West Texas. Her next book involves an American physician caught up in the Rwandan genocide.

A Cause and a Champion

About the author

I'm American, lived in Geneva and Copenhagen, managed in international business, and consulted to U.N. The Condor and the Hippo explores the limits of idealism. Sawing a Hole Through the Roof and Old Stories are memoirs. The 4 book series Blue Marble Defenders are adventures for 8 and 12 yr olds. view profile

Published on November 05, 2019

Published by

70000 words

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

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