Excerpt from Blood River by Tim Butcher, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Blood River

The Terrifying Journey Through the World's Most Dangerous Country

by Tim Butcher

Blood River by Tim Butcher
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2008, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2009, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Fiona Lorrain

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Michel was at work in his radio station, a standard-issue UN container at the garrison headquarters built in the ruin of a Belgian-era cotton factory on the outskirts of Kalemie. He was deep in thought, trying to work out how to deal with an imminent public-relations crisis: peacekeepers in Kalemie and elsewhere across the Democratic Republic of Congo had been caught paying local girls, under the age of consent, for sex. Michel had just come from a meeting where the scale of the problem had been revealed. He seemed happy for the distraction. I introduced Benoit, an aid worker from Care International, and told him my worries about security. 'Benoit says there are mai-mai [local rebels] all along these tracks. Do you know anyone local who could help me get through?'

'There is one person I know who dares to travel regularly through the bush. He is a pygmy and runs a small aid group here in town. His name is Georges Mbuyu.'

Benoit and I piled into Michel's Jeep and drove to a derelict Belgian villa. A small man wearing plastic flip-flops emerged. When he saw Michel, he grinned. The pair greeted each other warmly in Swahili. I told him I wanted to go overland from here to the Congo river, to follow the route used by the explorer Stanley, but needed help with security. He thought for a moment. 'I cannot remember the last time a white man went through that area. It has been many, many years. But I know some of the mai-mai near town. Some are not rebels, they are just villagers who want to protect themselves. These are good people and I can talk to them.'

'Would you be prepared to accompany me, by motorbike, towards the river?' I tried not to sound desperate. For a moment, Georges was quiet. 'I cannot go with you all the way, only some of it, but I think you will be safe if I go with you.'

It was Benoit who spotted the problem. 'We have only two bikes, there is no space for Georges, and how would he get back here to Kalemie?'

Michel was optimistic. 'My friend knows a man with a motorbike, who might be prepared to rent it.' Half an hour later, a grubby-looking man called Fiston Kasongo appeared. His eyes were bloodshot and his breath smelt of alcohol. 'If you want a motorbike, I am your man,' he said. He could barely stand, he was so drunk. He led us down a track where he had hidden a bike in some long grass. 'There is my bike. It is a great bike.'

I could see Benoit was not convinced. But Georges was game, and that was enough for me. Fiston wanted $125. Benoit's eyes flickered disapprovingly, so I offered $50. Fiston did not hesitate. He shook my hand, and asked for a down payment to buy some fuel. I gave him $20 and he disappeared, weaving along a footpath through the high grass in a cloud of blue exhaust smoke that spoke of an engine in distress.



As I emerged from the house on the morning we were to leave Kalemie, Benoit appeared to be wrestling with eels. It was still dark, and with my head torch all I could make out was his shape, leaning over the back of one of the motorbikes, struggling with various long, black things with a springy and clearly disobedient life of their own: he was using old bicycle inner tubes as luggage straps to attach my kit to the back of his motorbike.

Wearing a bright-yellow plastic raincoat, with heavy gloves, kneepads, goggles and black, shiny wellington boots, he looked like a ninja North Sea trawlerman. The 100cc motorbike was now sitting heavily on its rear wheel, with my rucksack, a jerrycan and various other pieces of gear bulkily taking up most of the rider's seat. Above the handlebars was another hulking arrangement of fuel bottles, water canisters and other bundles. And on top of it all, Benoit was wriggling into two rucksacks - one on his back, the other slung in reverse across his chest.

From Blood River by Tim Butcher. Copyright Tim Butcher 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Grove Press.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Graybar Hotel
    The Graybar Hotel
    by Curtis Dawkins
    We – those of us on the outside – are lucky. So very lucky. We get to experience life &#...
  • Book Jacket: The Force
    The Force
    by Don Winslow
    Intense! That's the word. Winslow's The Force rips through its four hundred pages with the...
  • Book Jacket: Shadow Man
    Shadow Man
    by Alan Drew
    Alan Drew's debut novel, Gardens of Water, was an ambitious work of literary fiction set amid ...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Necklace
    by Claire McMillan

    For readers of The Nest, the intelligent, intoxicating story of long-simmering family secrets.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

A novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake that changed a family forever.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.