Leonard’s The Chicken Thief is a self-published political thriller set in Southern Africa. Anybody who has lived in Southern Africa will likely appreciate the bits and pieces put together by the author – thus – the political turmoil vis-à-vis the economic situations of the lives of the people in the region.
The ‘Thief’ as captured in the title of the book is a young man named Alois. As a young man, Alois had made his parents proud by securing a decent job at the Ministry of Finance – the department from which ‘those who could drive made more money’. (Location 207) He had made his parents proud particularly his father of whom we are told ‘pride was something his father didn’t get to experience very often’. (Location 207) One day, a new chapter opens in the life of Alois – Alois the hero – because he quits his job at the Ministry of Finance to stealing chickens. His decision for his new self-employed job is an honest affair: ‘…the Ministry taught me to steal; they made me put on a suit and steal from people who could not afford it. I may be a thief but this way is more honest’. (Location 207)
Told in the third person narrative, the story is well-paced, action packed, suspenseful and reads like there is always something to expect from the next chapter – a device I think worked well in conveying the message the author wanted to carry across.
The intricacy of the plot which sends the story further until the reader runs to the last page is embedded in Jim Coultard’s meeting with Alois. Jim Coultard, a university Professor of History meets Alois at gun point and offers him a task of which he agrees to pay him a good sum of money if well executed. The task is spelled out vividly before Alois: he is to go get a letter from an old friend. Alois accepts the offer and in the end is caught up in a complex situation which would later make him a hero.
Leonard’s The Chicken Thief is in no small way a trifling feat; she captures the imagination of the reader and vividly spells out through her fictitious characters what is at stake in an unnamed Southern African country. I tend to dislike books that do not name the place a story is set but with this book Leonard has taken a smart and intelligent decision to not have named a specific place. The Chicken Thief was published as an e-book by Smashwords in 2011.