The Shangani Patrol
The year is 1889 and having recently returned from Khartoum, Simon Fonthill and his faithful sidekick 352 Jenkins are in Matabeleland. Accompanied by his redoubtable wife Alice, Fonthill is acting on behalf of Cecil John Rhodes, who is keen to open the territory to the benefits of Victorian civilization. However, the court of King Lobengula is a dangerous place and the intrepid trio find themselves involved in a dangerous game of politics, when the ambitions of Rhodes collide with the colonial ambitions of the Portuguese envoy, Manuel de Sousa. When friction develops between Rhodes and the Matabele king, Fonthill finds himself drawn into war, which culminates in the Shangani River massacre.
As with all his previous Fonthill novels, John Wilcox provides an exciting story of derring-do. All the characters are well-drawn and believable. The Matabele War was a virtual sideshow in the history of Victorian military history, but it provides an excellent framework for more rip roaring action against a background of Victorian colonial expansionism. Action, humour, a murderous villain, military heroism and stupidity, all grounded in strong research – what more could you ask for? Recommended.