Title: Zanzibar Intrigue
Author: Van Wyck Mason
Mason, F. van Wyck (1963). Zanzibar Intrigue. Garden City, NY: Doubleday,
Date Posted: January 11, 2017
Review by Peter Kenney
Colonel Hugh North of military intelligence and his aide, Captain Kenny Trotter, are sent to Zanzibar to rescue a C.I.A. agent who is being used by the Russian KGB in East Africa. The agent is really Master Sergeant Willie Bonhart who defected from the army to East Berlin several years ago, posing as a disgruntled soldier. As a Black and a warrior, he is a useful symbol for the Russians as they strive to gain influence in Zanzibar and nearby territories that are seeking independence.
North and Trotter go to Africa disguised as employees of a spice company. At their first stop in Nairobi they soon learn that the East African Liberation Party is also very interested in Willie Bonhart. The leader of the Party is James Mnoyah who used to be a Mau Mau operative. Both Bonhart and Mnoyah have a potential enemy in Tommy Henderson, a White settler who lost his wife and children to Mau Mau terrorists. All of these forces have to be taken into account as North and Trotter proceed to Zanzibar and attempt to free Bonhart from the KGB officers who are holding him hostage before his appearance at a mass rally for African independence.
This is very much a Cold War spy story with lots of background information provided on East African politics. Much is made of the murder in 1961 of Patrice Lumumba and Russia’s involvement at that time in the former Belgian Congo.
The use of coded messages is a key ingredient in the success of North’s mission.