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A guide to the birds of East Africa
2008
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  Library Journal Review

In this delightful love story, author and naturalist Drayson (Confessing a Murder) introduces readers to the ornithological wonders of Kenya. Mr. Malik, a short, round, aging Indian man with a horrendous comb-over, is in love with Mrs. Rose Mbikwa, who is attractive, Scottish, and the leader of the Tuesday morning bird walks. Both have lost their spouses and both are devoted to Kenya, birds, and politics, but beyond that, they couldn't be more different. Nevertheless, Mr. Malik intends to invite Mrs. Mbikwa to the Hunt Club Ball. Alas, Harry Khan, a flashy playboy on holiday in Nairobi, also has his sights set on Mrs. Mbikwa. A contest is staged that grants the man who can sight the most bird species in one week the right to invite the lady to the ball. The course of the contest reveals the shallowness of Harry Khan and Mr. Malik's true worth. While the reader is pulled along by the suspense of the contest, the glorious sights, sounds, and smells of Nairobi provide lovely rest stops along the way. Recommended for all fiction collections.--Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Law Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

A charming love triangle in Nairobi, Kenya, forms the center of a novel that manages to be both sweet and gripping. Mr. Malik, a quiet widower guided by a naive crush, spends his Tuesdays on bird walks led by Rose Mbikwa, the Scottish widow of a Kenyan politician, whom he secretly wishes to escort to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball. Enter Harry Khan, Mr. Malik's playboy nemesis, who also takes a liking to Rose. Mr. Malik's social club organizes a bet--whoever can spot the most bird species in one week earns the right to ask Rose to the ball. While Harry heads off on expensive safaris, Mr. Malik is beset by a plague of problems, including the theft of his car and bird-watching notebook, and an ambush by renegade Somalis. The competition takes on a surprising page-turning urgency, thanks largely to Mr. Malik's delightful nature and his unexpected secrets. With captivating character sketches and glimpses into Kenyan life and politics, Drayson meets the inevitable comparisons to Alexander McCall Smith without breaking a sweat. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
A beguiling novel that does for contemporary Kenya and its 1,000 species of birds what Alexander McCall Smith's Ladies Detective series does for Botswana<br> <br> For the past three years, the widower Mr. Malik has been secretly in love with Rose Mbikwa, a woman who leads the weekly bird walks sponsored by the East African Ornithological Society. Reserved and honorable, Malik wouldn't be noticed by a bystander in a Nairobi street--except perhaps to comment on his carefully sculpted combover. But beneath that unprepossessing exterior lies a warm heart and a secret passion.<br> <br> But just as Malik is getting up the nerve to invite Rose to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball (the premier social occasion of the Kenyan calendar), who should pop up but his nemesis from his school days. The jokester Harry Khan, good-looking in a flashy way and quick of foot, has also become enraptured with the object of Malik's affection.<br> So begins the competition cooked up by fellow members of the Asadi club: whoever can identify the most species of birds in one week's time gets the privilege of asking Ms. Mbikwa to the ball.<br> Set against the lush Kenyan landscape rich with wildlife and political intrigue, this irresistible novel has been sold in eight countries and is winning fans worldwide.
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