Tim Butcher’s second travel book offering takes the reader on our journey through west Africa in the footsteps of Graham Greene. He and his traveling companion travel through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia by road, foot and boat, recreating a journey made by Graham Greene and his cousin Barbara in 1935 which eventually led to Greene writing ‘Journey Without Maps’. As with his previous book Blood River, Butcher takes on considerable risk by choosing to make this journey in an area of Africa not well known for its political stability.
Liberia is more well known for blood diamonds and child soldiers than for travel, and Butcher delves into its history as he traverses the land and meets local people. He introduces the reader to local culture such as the ‘devils’ mentioned in the title; sorcerers with magical powers that still play a very prevalent role in today’s society. He also draws obvious parallels between his journey and Greene’s, with particular witness to the fact that many of the villages he visits in remote jungles are much the same and no better off than they were 77 years ago.
Chasing the Devil is a journey very different from that in Blood River, but a bold and fascinating one nonetheless. Let’s hope Butcher continues his adventures so we may continue to enjoy his work.