Stephen R. Matthew’s first police posting near the Northern Rhodesian border with the Congo coincided dramatically with a time of horrific ethnic cleansing in the Belgian Congo area. At just twenty-one years old, Stephen was knifed, ambushed, stoned, shot and wounded by bow and arrow. His hand was broken several times.
Action-packed, unadulterated stories of those frantic and dangerous years are meticulously detailed here. This young police inspector found himself confronted by actions and terrifying events well beyond his understanding, whilst serving in the elite police force. He found that the police were fighting on two fronts; trying to protect the vulnerable citizens of the country whilst at the same time endeavouring to stop the slaughter of wildlife.
A stand-out, unique and comprehensive book, Murder, Witchcraft and the Killing of Wildlife depicts dramatic accounts of witchcraft-murders and cannibalism. Highly dangerous solo investigations are detailed, incorporating incidents of black magic, kidnapping, arson, gun-running and people trafficking.
Each in its own way, these books track important changes in the legal systems that deal with heinous crimes against men, women and children. So, what’s left — animals? Well, yes. Stephen R. Matthews covers that ground in MURDER, WITCHCRAFT AND THE KILLING OF WILDLIFE: Police Investigations at the Heart of Africa (Pen & Sword, 231 pp., $34.95). It’s tough to compete with witch doctors, gun runners, government assassins, mercenaries and assorted other strong personalities of that ilk, but the author’s magnificent Doberman, modestly named Alex, comes off best in this rattling good memoir by a former British police officer writing of his colorful career while on assignment in Congo. As a visitor to the police station patiently explains his complaint to the desk sergeant: “You know, this is all about witchcraft and of course, the Bwana’s big brown dog Alex knows who did it.” I mean, what’s not to love about a story featuring a canine revered for his courage, sagacity and insight into human malfeasance? In between solving murders and settling village grievances, Matthews is frequently called upon to deal with a variety of local scams, like the self-serving hustle of a mortician who has convinced a woman that her dear departed husband would be restored to life if she would have sex with him — the mortician, not the dead husband. But the soul of the book resides in the author’s efforts to stem the evil practices of slaughtering endangered wildlife and dealing with foreign agents in the dirty business of smuggling animal parts. Despite his best attempts, Matthews could never shake off the way the locals saw him, as a white witch doctor with the ability to speak with the spirits of the dead and place spells against the living. There’s a story — several, in fact — about what led to this perception, which proves that, at the very least, the author learned a thing or two about telling a tale. ~New York Times
“An deftly written, impressively informative, and inherently riveting read from first page to last, "Murder, Witchcraft and the Killing of Wildlife: Police Investigations at the Heart of Africa" is an extraordinary and detailed memoir that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to both community and college/university library Environmentalist & Naturalist Biography; Biology of Wildlife; and African Law Enforcement Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies.”
~Midwest Book Review