Dawood Ali McCallum – The Final Charge
Engaging fourth novel from human rights expert set in 1950s Kenya
In his fourth novel, human rights expert Dawood Ali McCallum has turned his attention to Kenya, where British doctor Tom Miles is arrested for a war crime alleged to have been committed in 1954 during Kenya’s battle for independence. Centred around defence lawyer Leo Kane and hyper-ambitious prosecutor Paul Muya, the power struggle between the two is fascinating.
McCallum has a firm grasp of his subject matter, but early on the narrative flow is broken with disruptive reportage, and while a huge array of characters are required to bind the story together, there is little engagement with many of them. Even the side story that gives the novel its name (revolving around Kane’s attempts to win a cross-country road race, The Charge) feels like a necessary distraction.
Things improve markedly in the second half and as the case reaches its conclusion. Revelation after revelation easily hold the reader’s attention as the story of what happened to Miles in 1954 and the reasons for his prosecution over 50 years later emerge through engaging courtroom scenes.