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The Tin Soldiers

This fast-paced novel is set in Boston, London and across the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Raphael Undu is 13 years old, a farmer’s son in Congo’s rebellious, mineral-rich east. When war scatters his family, he must protect his little sister, Keisha, and try to reunite them. He is a tough and resourceful boy, but ranged against him are rebels and a renegade army, vying for control of mineral wealth beyond imagination.

While Raphael’s personal crisis spirals out of control, photographer James Falkus follows clues to the Congo, hoping to piece together the puzzle surrounding his birth parents. James, however, is opening a Pandora’s box, with devastating and far-reaching consequences for everyone around him.

All the while, the lives of ordinary people are being manipulated by powerful national and global forces locked in a struggle for control of the country and its natural riches, and playing a high-stakes poker game for global influence. Only one thing is certain—nothing and no one here are what they seem.

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If you want to understand the lasting effects of colonisation, of modern greed and global capitalism, and you want it all wrapped up in a novel full of heart-stopping moments, the best and worst of humanity and the nagging feeling that something is rotten in the world, but that hope springs eternal, then this is the book for you. Cowan has the feel for the right word in the right place at the right time. He's economical and sparse, but can turn on words that flow and bite and make you wriggle with the inadequacy of your own response to the troubles of Africa, the troubles of the world. Hope a second book is being built right now. A new name. I'm buying for presents. Always a good sign.


Martin Roche

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