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A Darkening Stain
  “Unmissable...Unflinchingly imagined and executed. No hint of competition.”
Philip Oakes.
Literary Review.

Bruce Medway, fixer for the great unfixed, does not immediately see the disappearance of schoolgirls off the streets of Cotonou, Benin, as any of his business. That is the domain of his ex-partner, Bagado, who has been reinstated in the force by his corrupt boss, the police chief, Bondougou. Bruce has the more pressing matter of a visit from two sweet-natured mafiosi who want him to find a French businessman called Jean-Luc Marnier who Bruce deduces is in for more than a wrist-slapping.

Then another schoolgirl goes missing and this time it's personal. Bruce has to get involved, descending into a deeper darkness of police corruption, mafia revenge, sexual depravity and illegal gold. To save himself and others Bruce conceives of a scam, one that will excite the greed that naturally prevails along this stretch of coast and which, when executed out on the black waters of the massive lagoon system, will inevitably result in death.

No. 4 in the Bruce Medway series.

Machete marks
I had a teacher who'd lived in Africa for a long time. We were all intrigued by him because he had some of the most appalling but, to young boys, impressive scars we'd ever seen on his face, arms and legs. We found out that he'd left Africa after suffering a vicious machete attack. Having seen the scars I imagined the horror of what he'd gone through. The blade flashing down, hacking into the flesh of his limbs as he desperately tried to protect himself. It stayed with me and became the genesis of the villain of this book, Jean-Luc Marnier.

One strand of the plot looks at the gold business in West Africa. The largest exporter of gold on this coast is Togo despite the fact that it doesn't have a gold mine. But the country next door, Ghana, does and gold stolen from the Ashanti Goldfields was constantly making its way across the border into the Togolese capital, Lomé. I first came across this trade when I was travelling and a British engineer, whose family we stayed with in the compound of the Ashanti gold mine, told me about it. I bolstered this research when I met the Lebanese and Indians who ran the gold out of Togo.

Cure for AIDS
The other strand of the plot is again based on real events and covers the most appalling criminal activity I have ever heard about. Schoolgirls were being kidnapped off the streets and smuggled into Nigeria to rich businessmen, who had been told by their witch doctors that sex with a virgin would cure AIDS. That's the darkening stain of the title.

400 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; New Ed edition (5 Aug 2002)
ISBN-10: 0007130422
ISBN-13: 978-0007130429