Crime is universal, all that differentiates it is the culture within which it occurs. Lightseekers is a perfect example. Set in a small college town in Nigeria a young man is necklaced by a tire filled with gasoline and burned to death by a mob, ostensibly for drug dealing . When the police don't do anything the man's father hires Philip Taiwo, an investigative psychologist to discover what really occurred and why. What he uncovers harkens back to the Biafran wars of the late 60's and early seventies and ruffles of some rich and influential people who don't want their reputations sullied. A smart, well written story, this begs the age old conundrum that you don't always get what you want, or like what you hear when all you want is closure, especially when politics is involved.— Pete
A Nigerian psychologist travels to a remote southern border town to uncover the truth about the murder of three university students in this "original and fast-paced thriller" (Lauren Wilkinson, author of American Spy).
When Dr. Philip Taiwo is called on by a powerful Nigerian politician to investigate the public torture and murder of three university students in remote Port Harcourt, he has no idea that he’s about to be enveloped by a perilous case that is far from cold.
Philip is not a detective. He’s an investigative psychologist, an academic more interested in figuring out the why of a crime than actually solving it. But when he steps off the plane and into the dizzying frenzy of the provincial airport, he soon realizes that the murder of the Okriki Three isn’t as straightforward as he thought. With the help of his loyal and streetwise personal driver, Chika, Philip must work against those actively conspiring against him to parse together the truth of what happened to these students.
A thrilling and atmospheric mystery, and an unforgettable portrait of the contemporary Nigerian sociopolitical landscape, Lightseekers is a wrenching novel tackling the porousness between the first and third worlds, the enduring strength of tribalism and homeland identity, and the human need for connection in the face of isolation.
About the Author
Femi Kayode trained as a clinical psychologist in Nigeria, before starting a career in advertising. He has created and written several primetime TV shows and recently graduated with a distinction from the University of East Anglia Creative Writing program. He is lives in Windhoek, Namibia, with his wife and two sons.
longlisted for the 2022 CWA Gold Dagger
"This is [Kayode's] first novel, and a delight it is....The book introduces the forces at play in contemporary Nigeria as well as serving as a warning against mob mentality — and a reminder of how readily people fall into it."
“Lightseekers is ripe with all the twists and turns you could hope for and Philip Taiwo is exactly the type of person you’d want investigating misdeeds and revealing complicated truths. A fast-paced thriller that offers insight into the ever present tensions in a poverty stricken community. An action-packed and spirited debut.”
—Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of Los Angeles Times Book Prize-winning My Sister, the Serial Killer
“Femi Kayode’s debut novel about an investigative psychologist’s quest to uncover the truth behind the mob killing of three university students is an original and fast-paced thriller which masterfully explores the smoldering historical tensions underpinning modern-day Nigeria, the role of social media, and the complexities of family, friendship and belonging.”
—Lauren Wilkinson, Edgar Award-winning author of American Spy
“The best crime fiction transports and enlightens while also entertaining— and Lightseekers, a compulsive and illuminating debut, does that and more. This is a novel that honors and inverts the tried and true tropes of the amateur PI with a contemporary flair that feels assured and innovative. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it had to end.”
—Alex Segura, author of Silent City and Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall
“An important story masterfully told.”
—Leye Adenle, author of Easy Motion Tourist
“Kayode deftly meshes incandescent descriptions with subtly escalating action, while casting light on social inequities and the ease with which anger can be stoked and weaponized on social media....With alluring characters, including a chillingly psychotic villain; an original, many-faceted plot; and blazing psychological and social insights, Kayode’s commanding and thought-provoking first crime novel launches a profoundly promising series.”
“An example of genre fiction that brings to light the cracks in our society and those individuals who fall through them.”—LA Review of Books
"Lightseekers is a dynamic and feverishly excited thrill ride of a novel. Kayode’s psychologist narrator is headed to a small college town in the heart of Nigeria to investigate the murders of three students....Perfect for those who grew up in towns full of very loud college students."—Molly Odintz, CrimeReads
“An absolutely cracking debut, fresh, unique and beautifully written, a sure-fire candidate for next year's big prizes. In a time when travel is nigh-on impossible it's wonderful to be transported to another world in such a vivid and memorable fashion.”
—Trevor Wood, author of the CWA John Creasey Dagger Award-winning The Man on the High Street
“I loved the start of this brilliant new series. Such a clever concept— and a really unusual hero in investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo. Lightseekers is both a page-turner and a fascinating analysis of a crisis in Nigeria.”
—Holly Watt, author of To The Lions and winner of the CWA Steel Dagger Award
“Thrillingly good. Femi Kayode takes crime fiction— very literally— to new places. Ian Rankin once said the best way to understand a country is to read its crime fiction. Told from the perspective of a returning expatriate, Lightseekers takes us deep into the rich complexities of contemporary Nigeria.”
—William Shaw, author of The Birdwatcher
"A superb novel – so inventive and so well done. It’s just brilliant."—Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange
"Gripping, beautifully written and unlike anything else you'll read."—William Ryan, author of The Holy Thief
"There’s a lot about social expectations and access to resources in this novel, but it’s also a solid detective story with a sympathetic protag in Philip Taiwo, and plenty of twists and surprising connections in his investigations.—The Fiction Addiction
—Cosmopolitan UK, 69 books by Black and POC authors out in 2021
"The ideal for any thriller writer is to get a successful series off the ground. Femi Kayode has a chance with his investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo, who is the protagonist of Lightseekers, the start of a new series that begins with the gripping tale of the mystery of three young students who are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, killings that are captured on social media."
—Independent, Best Books 2021
"These brand new releases for 2021 will certainly keep you on your toes, promising spine-chilling twists and turns in their pages … the first in a major new crime series."
—Metro, Eight Gripping New Novels
"This debut has an intriguing setting – the Nigerian countryside; an engaging fish-out-of-water hero in Dr Philip Taiwo, recently returned after living in the US for years; and a smart plot centering on a covered-up murder."
—iNews, 75 of the best books for 2021
"Transporting us to Nigeria, this is an atmospheric, vivid and beautifully written mystery that oozes with intrigue, and a brilliant first novel from the winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize."—Dead Good Books, New Crime Books 2021