Twenty years ago, Ray Campbell, now a cautious risk-management consultant, was a well-intentioned aid worker dedicated to improving conditions in Lubanda, a newly independent African country. He is forced to reconsider that year of living dangerously when a friend from his time in Lubanda is found murdered in a New York alley. Signs suggest that this most recent tragedy is rooted in the far more distant one of Martine Aubert, the only woman Ray ever truly loved and whose fate he’d sealed in a moment of grievous error.
Martine Aubert was a white, native Lubandan farmer whose dream for her homeland starkly conflicted with those charged with its so-called development. But it was Ray’s failure to understand Martine’s commitment to her country that had placed a noose around her neck, one tightened by a circle of vicious men, cruel taunts, and whistling machetes. Ray’s return to the passion he’d once felt for Martine makes A Dancer in the Dust the enthralling and moving story of two loves: Ray’s love for Martine Aubert, and Martine’s for a homeland that did not love her back.
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A Haunting Story of International Intrigue
It's not often that an author can tackle a controversial topic in an unbiased fashion, but Thomas Cook did just that. At the conclusion of the book, I truly did not know Mr. Cook's personal position on aid to foreign countries, and that's a good thing. Too often I have found that novels are used as opinion pieces and it was a true pleasure to listen to a story unfold without feeling that there was a political agenda at stake.
Martine's strength of character is to admired even though it cost her her life. Her ability to see what would be best for her country, even if her own countrymen wouldn't admit it, proved to be her undoing.
Ray Chase is one of my favorite narrators. He seamlessly moves from one character to another without missing a beat. In a book such as Dancer in the Dust, there are many characters with varying accents and his narration makes it easy to distinguish them easily and effortlessly.
Back to Africa - an older, perhaps wiser man returns to discover the impact of the choices he made many years ago.
Thomas Cook has the ability to immerse you in his story. Paired with the excellent narration of Ray Chase, this is an audiobook that will keep your suspicions on high alert until the very end. I think I might just listen to it again and look for clues that I might have missed along the way. The ending was a surprise to me - but one that made perfect sense.
Yet Another Miss for Cook