Book Review – Blood in the Water

“What kinda story do you have up here in Blood in the Water. Damn. Everything happened so fast. How bad could someone’s day get!

Bilkiss. Just like that. I am struggling to even read past that place. I am so afraid. And angry. And sad. Everything is happening to me.

I can’t guess what’s to happen and nothing is allaying my fears.”

Hanson’s first unedited take.

Blood in the Water: Prying Justice from the Jaws of Life and Death

Blood in the Water is an intriguing story of crime, sex, lifestyle, and most of all, death.

Two friends are trapped in a night that made itself longer than usual. After escaping to Kaduna to continue the crimes he left off in Lagos, Collins meets Princewill who is also in his line of ‘business.’

Around the same period, they have a haul; and to celebrate, they go to a club where they meet two gorgeous girls that they split apiece—Bilkiss and Tolani for Collins and Princewill respectively.

On the ride home, a quarrel ensues between the two girls that morphed into a fight that roped the two men into it, and gets the DSS paged to them. Even, Collins wins a slap from Bilkiss. Still, Bilkiss is untowardly dramatic despite her ravishing beauty simply because her request for ribbed condoms is derided.

The theatricality of Bilkiss resumes after briefly stemming off earlier; she causes a scene after Collins lodges her and goes away to get some things and return to her. For this again, Collins wins some more slap.

Collins is obviously infuriated with the ignobility of Bilkiss and she makes to make amends in the way women are known to. But Collins resists her, and insists she freshens up first. She goes to the bath and slips and dies. Collins is thrown into an unimaginable discombobulation.

In time, his friend appears to hatch a plan of escape from the scene—in contrast, the DSS is ringing Bilkiss’ continuously unanswered phone.

Good to plan, they make progress on the escape but Princewill was bent on concluding a tryst with Tolani before he bids Kaduna farewell for good—that was not to be. Yet.

Collins waits them out but time was ticking against them as Bilkiss’ corpse was now found and the DSS were combing everywhere for them, and have instructed checkpoints to be poised. Nevertheless, they dodge a checkpoint on their way out of the city. Then, on top speed, their tyres burst and the car veers off and rams into a trunk, Collins badly injures and slips from consciousness, while Princewill dies from the crash—leaving the world with the one thing that seemed to transcend universes—memory—the fond memory of the consummate sex with Tolani.

The book assumes the rollercoaster plot run reminiscent of Wright’s Native Son. Coincidentally, both books involved unpremeditated murders and escape plans.

Akingbogun masterfully tells his story with poignant images, clear language, maximum suspense (and I must confess, I left off reading the book for a while simply to escape seeing some resolutions) as well as easy to comprehend structures (comprising short sentences and sustained rhythm); most of all, the book is fast-paced as if the quick plot retained some kinesis to engender an equally quick flow of the text.

Yet beyond the aesthetic appeal, Akingbogun’s message is vivid—the poetic justice the plot resolves into is a pointer that the author holds it true that crime never pays and must not be masked to. And though Collins wakes up in the hospital, handcuffed, and Princewill being dead—hence, they’d be no one to lend a voice, however feeble, that he had no hand in Bilkiss’ death. Still, the questions remain: what about the crimes of fraud he’s been perpetrating? What is meant to be the consolation of the victims?

Now, although we cannot peel off, like an onion bulb, the form from the content of this magnificent piece because the one enhances the other and vice versa; as we read, we hoped for a satisfactory resolution, and that the writer has served us.

I recommend this book for any kind of reading (for pleasure or for critical review) because it interrogates relevant issues garbed in enjoyable language.

The book is available in every reputable bookstore in the country and the continent, and can be ordered from various online platforms.

As an ensemble, two books are contained in one—one, Blood in the Water and the other, Waste of Sin which we are reviewing next. Two magnificent stories published as one book, yet kept markedly apart. Check it out.

Utibe Hanson is a writer as well as literary and cultural theorist. He is the author of the poetry collection, Unnoticed Presence of Things, and the study, Football as Literature: A Semiotic Reading.


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