Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

In 1927, the Belgian Congo on the African continent was a place of headhunters, cannibalism, man-eating leopards, curses and witch doctors. That same year, the chief of a Bapende village returned from tracking and slaying a man-eating leopard that was terrorizing the village, only to discover that his favorite wife gave birth to twins.

The narrative switches back and forth between the present and the past, when the twins were born to the powerful chief. Ordinarily twins would be killed, but the chief manages to save them, only to have one molested by a white man. The cure for that outrage is to have the entire tribe, as well as the priest’s companion, share in eating the offender. Soon afterwards, the twins are torn apart by a kidnapping, and when they secretly reunite decades later in Belle Vue, one is found dead, which does no good for a town already poised for disaster.

The Boy Who Stole the Leopard’s Spots is the third in the series based on Tamar Myers’ life as the child of missionaries in the Belgian Congo. It is not a mystery in the traditional sense, but it provides a fascinating look into life in a colonial Africa on the brink of catastrophic change. The switching between past and present in every other chapter makes the book both more interesting and slightly more confusing. It does successfully tie everything together albeit rather abruptly by the end of the story.

I rather enjoyed The Boy Who Stole the Leopard’s Spots, but not in the way I must assume the author intended. The book was marketed as a riveting mystery, but I was more interested in the cultural history rather than the fictional storyline. Based upon a time in history in which there was much conflict between Europeans and Africans, it was interesting to hear point of views from both sides. Myers’ personal experience definitely shone through and I was very impressed by her storytelling.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 cats, and 2 dogs. She goes to school full time as an English major with a focus in creative writing. She likes anime and reads books and plays video games in her moments of spare time.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.