child 44 and maalika

I needed a book to occupy me on my 14 hour flight to (and another 14 back from) Joburg. Left with no time to search for the book I really wanted, a biography of a Chinese ballet dancer who was also the first man in China to undergo a complete sex change (I forgot the title and had difficulty finding it), I grabbed the book that caught my attention with its strikingly coloured cover. I was also attracted by the story's setting against the backdrop of 1950s Stalinist Russia.

I expected a lot more historical facts (I love reading history books) and hence was a bit disappointed by the focus on the murders and suspense around solving the crimes (I'm not a suspense thriller person). At one point towards the last quarter of the book, it became a bit unbelievable. I guess it's my fault for just grabbing a book without ensuring I knew what I was getting. The fact that the book was found in the CRIME section should have told me something. Stupid me.

Nonetheless, I finished the book in record time, probably because I ran out of movies to watch on board and the inflight entertainment system broke down on my return flight. I must say that once you start reading, you will not want to stop until you find out how it's gonna end.

Only afterwards did I read somewhere that the author actually incorporated in the story elements of the real murders by the Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. I'm glad I didn't find that out before reading the book. It would have made me sick. Reading up on this Andrei guy on Wiki made me quite sick.

On to other books. I'm still determined to find that book about that ballet dancer from China.

In the meantime, I've started on a new book, Maalika - a biography and memoir of an Australian nurse who married a clan leader of a nomadic tribe in northern Ethiopia and together, spent their lives bringing education and life-saving medical aid to the nomads in one of the harshest places to live in on earth. The book is written by Valerie Browning herself (together with John Little), who is known as Maalika to the Afar tribes that means 'Queen'.

I'm not sure if my recent trip to South Africa had anything to do with my purchase of this book.

In any case, I'm 2 chapters into the book now and loving it.

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