Kenya, Leo (Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira) and Rodolphe’s (Rodolphe Daniel Jacquette) ongoing series of spies, extinct beasts and strange flying lights that is set in post-war Kenya reaches a conclusion with its fifth book, Illusions, translated from the French and published by Cinebook.
After the discovery of the boxes around and in Lake Victoria, boxes that contain the extinct animals, and the disappearance or destruction of both the evidence for those animals and the Western and Soviet teams’ means of travel, there remains an uneasy truce between them. A Soviet flying boat manages to evade RAF fighters to get the Soviets away whilst British agent Kathy Austin and American writer John Remington return with their would-be rescuers, Count Di Broglie and Judith Foster, to the Maasai village. The villagers remain frightened of a large beast whilst Kathy and John listen to the tale of the seemingly mad Lord Balmer who believes he has been healed by people from the stars.
Kenya as a series ends here with more of a whimper than an almighty climax as the main explanation of the previous events is given as exposition by Lord Bulmer. This seeming anti-climax, as the surviving main characters say their goodbyes and return to their normal lives or in Kathy’s case prepares to return to MI6 headquarters in London, is however followed by one final twist which reveals to her alone a further explanation of what has been happening over the previous four books. That does help to lift the end of the book and with it the overall story.
With Kenya co-writers and co-artists Leo and Rodolphe have intrigued me the whole way through playing as they do with colonial Africa, spies, extinct (and sometimes unknown) beasts and UFOs. Indeed those unknown beasts, whilst never fully explained even in this book, may prove to be something that the ongoing “Kenya universe” could return to in the sequel series Namibia. The first Namibia book has already been released by Cinebook with the second and third scheduled before the end of the year. France is up to the fifth and final Namibia book meaning that I wouldn’t expect too long a gap before the Cinebook translations of books four and five appear as well.
Kenya as a series has been a mixture of The Lost World, Primeval, and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, sometimes frustrating as it consistently throws the unexplained at the reader, but it is never less than intriguing and entertaining. Based simply on viewing the covers of the five Nambia books to come, readers should have more of the same to look forward to.
• There are more details of the original French Kenya series on the Dargaud website (in French)
• There are more details of Kenya on the Cinebook website