Thursday, 6 June 2013

32. Reading // The Boy in the River by Richard Hoskins

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love reading. I find it very therapeutic and calming but, at the same time, invigorating and I'm always sort of proud when I finish a book - especially a good one.

Today I'm going to be reviewing a wonderful book that I've just finished reading. This is going to be part of a weekly series of book reviews; I'm going to try to read one new book (not including books that I have to read as part of my degree) each week and, whether it's good or bad, review it on here. 

Bare in mind that this is my first ever (!!) book review and, therefore, it's not the best and I've probably missed out loads of important stuff and rambled on about other not-so-important details, but I hope you like it nonetheless. 

The Boy in the River, by Richard Hoskins

The book I'll be reviewing this week is the 2012 non-fiction publication, 'The Boy in the River' by Richard Hoskins. I was recommended this book by my mum who read and loved it, and I managed to track it down in my local library.

The book tells the true story of Richard Hoskins, professor of African Cultures, who helped the London Metropolitan police with many of their investigations into child cruelty, particularly those stemming from African religious rituals. 

The narrative ranges from the 1980's right up until 2012 and is set in Bath, London, Glasgow and Devon as well as the Congo and Nigeria, as the story progresses. The main focus of the narrative is the shocking story of 'Adam,' the nameless, faceless torso that was found, mutilated, in the Thames in 2001. 

The story also intertwines the controversial and heart-breaking issue of kindoki which is not only a problem in mainland Africa, but also in Britain too. Hoskins touches upon other 'ritualistic' killings or periods of torture which have taken place in the U.K. within recent years, such as the case of 'Child B' and the murder of Kristy Bamu, both of which hit the headlines of British tabloids. 

Kindoki is a difficult issue to grasp as, amongst various African sub-cultures, it is viewed very differently. Generally speaking, my understanding of 'kindoki' is that it is an evil spirit which can possess people, in particular - as many believe - children. There was a recent documentary on the BBC called 'Branded a Witch' which focused on the mistreatment, torture and - sometimes - murder, of children who have been accused of witchcraft or of being possessed by kindoki. You can watch the full documentary here:

Throughout the novel, Hoskins describes his time spent in Nigeria and the Congo; raising and losing his own family, the people he meets, his experiences and the lessons he learns, and links this brilliantly to the 'present day' sections of the novel. Hoskins draws upon his experiences in Africa to help the investigation into the brutal murder of 'Adam.'

I don't want to give away too much of the story as it really is worth reading for yourself, so all I can say is that it is truly shocking, heart-breaking and incredibly moving. When I read this book, I was so glad (in the nicest way possible) that I have no children of my own, as I don't think I would have been able to finish the book as it is just such a horrible story, and true, which makes it so much sadder.

Even if you don't feel that this story appeals to you, I really would urge you to look into the topics that this book highlights. 

Becci xox

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