Book Review: A crime thriller that will unsettle your emotions

Writer Brian Lesalon Kasaine, a content specialist at Transread Technology Limited, with a novel he wrote out of cyberbullying that followed the arrest of his namesake following the 2018 murder of Monica Kimani in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The chilling, breath-taking story is set in familiar spaces.
  • The use of elements of a modern text by many standards reveals its contemporariness.
  • Kasaine is the budding crime writer of our times.

Title: 3 Bolts From the Blue

Author: Lesalon Kasaine

Publisher: Dots Village Entertainment

Kasaine's 3 Bolts From The Blue comprises three epic and all-encompassing short stories: Just a Sleepover, We All Weep, and When it Goes South. As you would expect with a well-written crime fiction story, the book starts as an emotional rollercoaster from the first page.

Just a Sleepover explores the mystery of sudden death that visits at the peak of searing love and between two young people. Isaac Kiarie and Sheila have been in love for the past three months, and that is a long time to warrant for a sleepover.

Unbeknownst to Kiarie, the night he takes Sheila to his friend Dan's house is the last night they would ever talk. Sheila had been experiencing haemorrhage after crashing with a fellow skater earlier on that day, but neither of them seemed to know the disaster that was awaiting. They hoped that the stabbing pain could vanish after taking a painkiller, but that is not set to happen.

Night of pleasure

Sheila passes away the early morning after a night of pleasure, and that thrusts Isaac in the middle of a crisis. And now he has to escape and later turn himself in to the DCI officers because you can only escape too far from the hovering spirit of your lover.

The chilling, breath-taking story is set in familiar spaces- Roysambu and Karen- and represents the literal meaning of the long-time, lover-commitment oath: till death do us part. You’d expect that the use of multiple flashbacks would get the reader lost in the story, but that only serves to show that Lesaine is a master storyteller in his own right.

The concurrent use of first-person point of view and the omniscient narrator demonstrates his versatility in weaving narratives. Rarely, you will get to see more than one perspective in a story and still grasp the plot without losing the grip.

Modern text

The use of elements of a modern text by many standards reveals its contemporariness. He combines multi-textual elements: journal, diary, and text messages, and uses emoji- arguably a new one into serious work in the literary scene- to convey emotions where words wouldn’t suffice. Hence, this only makes it the text of our generation, whose craft must be commended for shattering conventions to extend the essence of textual verisimilitude on a serious literature piece.

The narrative is more of a reflection of the societal challenges than a novel imagination.

Can one love someone too much to kill them? Well, in We All Weep, Lesaine attempts to logically explain the madness and jealousy that leads a lover to kill his partner. Harry, a disgruntled lover, kills Jackline for cheating on him with her ex-boyfriend, Stephen Musyoka.

The motivation that drives Jackline to cheat, against all the financial and time sacrifice that Harry seems to put in to keep their relationship on steam, is the need for satisfaction. She seeks to immerse herself in sexual experiences with Musyoka at the slightest opportunity, and that only goes as far until Harry finds out.

Moral question

In what seems to be a defense of his emotions, and perhaps retaliation for betrayal, he smothers Jackline to death after hours of sex. This treatment of character raises a moral question: shouldn’t Harry have dealt with betrayal in a better, more benevolent way? Couldn't the writer have offered a different solution through Harry? But we understand that it is the reality most of the time when love goes sour, and the narrative is more of a reflection of the societal challenges than a novel imagination.

And while Harry is arrested towards the end, his perpetual ability to draw empathy from Jackline’s mother and the investigating agencies is metaphorical for a hypocritical society in which we live. It could be easy to say that our hypocrisy is an attempt to justify the waywardness and evil that we collectively condone. The provoking story challenges us to think beyond to gather ways that can help us solve mysteries.

Peer influence

When It Goes South features errant schoolboys who are into drug abuse and find themselves on the wrong side of the administration. It speaks of the place of peer influence on the modeling of teenage behaviour and identity.

Of the three stories, When It Goes South felt felt like more of “telling” than “showing,” which means the hook slightly matched the expectation for the advanced reader. But, it is an exciting read for a young adult grappling with peer pressure and its consequences.  

By the time I turned the last page, then the back cover to reread the blurb, I was convinced that Kasaine is the budding crime writer of our times. Perhaps, coming too close to succeeding John Kiriamiti and Meja Mwangi in narrating adequately relatable and succinctly moral stories from which to read and learn. Everyone who enjoys heightened narrative tension will thoroughly enjoy the anthology.