A thrilling page-turner

2011-08-17 00:00

DOCTOR John Forle is a widowed English entomologist working in a research station on the banks of an tributary in the claustrophobic ­Amazon forest. 

The scientist’s organised views of the world are challenged by the ­arrival at the camp of a shrewd, ­cynical and erudite judge, and a ­taciturn and brutal colonel sent with his minions to oversee the government’s registration of the forest’s ­inhabitants for an electoral register.

The ostensible reason for the ­registration — “democracy and ­enlightenment” — is quickly ­exposed as treacherous rhetoric. Soon after the strangers’ arrival, Forle witnesses the sadistic torture of one of the forest’s indigenous inhabitants.

In the presence of these sinister forces, Forle’s life’s work on ants starts to seem inconsequential — at times, even to himself — and the reputation and intellectual authority he held as a scientist starts to ebb in the face of the more brutish imperatives of corruption and greed.

The increasingly outraged and frustrated Forle himself becomes a target when he attempts to save the life of an indigenous forest-dweller ­accused of spying. In the process of escaping, he learns what he is capable of — not as a scientist, but as a human being.

There are strong echoes of ­Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in this novel, not only in the stifling setting of the river station, but in the way in which Docx grapples with the dark patches of the human psyche.

Existentialist issues aside, the book is a thrilling page-turner. ­Edward Docx (author of Calligraphy and Self Help) is a deft storyteller who manages to achieve a fine balance in his rendering of suspense, action, violence and information. Through Forle, the reader is drawn into the complex and fascinating world of ants, and learns a thing or two about Indigenous Indian belief systems, and the precarious natural integrity of the Amazon. Owing to Docx’s feel for words, however, none of it feels like a tutorial.

BOOK REVIEW

The Devil’s Garden

Edward Docx

Picador

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.