Back in November, I introduced you to Suzanne, the first of three strong women who feature in the Suzanne Jones series of thrillers. In April, we met the second of the trio, her sister Charlie, and in May, it was the turn of their friend, Francine Matheson. This month we meet one of the other members of the team who play a role in the fight against fake medicines in Counterfeit!.
Chibesa Desai is the elder son of a mixed race marriage between a Hindu father and a Zambian mother. He is just twenty nine years old at the time Counterfeit! opens, although he looks several years older than that, partly because of the glasses he wears to compensate for his extreme short-sightedness. His skin is a light coffee brown and his thin, wiry frame belies his physical strength. He has been compared, by some of the girls he grew up with to an Indian film star and, although outwardly very modest, he is secretly quite proud of this comparison.
Following the death ten years previously of Chibesa’s mother, Mary, his father, Arav Desai, returned to India, leaving him to bring up his young brother Samuel. In this he is supported by Mary’s parents, Hannah and Silas. Their home is shared by a growing number of young children, mainly cousins; these Aids orphans often arrive for just a few days, but end up staying longer, safe in the knowledge that ‘Uncle Chi’ will look after them and provide them with a place of safety.
Chibesa is known for his love of African embroidered shirts, the more colourful the better. He is never seen without one, even in the most formal of settings. When he is playing for time or searching for the answer to a difficult question, he will remove his glasses and polish them with the hem of his shirt. He loves rock music and spends his days off listening to Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top despite teasing from the younger members of the family.
An economics graduate from Lusaka’s University of Zambia, Chibesa works for the Zambian Health Ministry and is seconded to the International Health Forum as a local logistics expert. He acts as administrator for Suzanne Jones and her team when they are in Africa, arranging transport and accommodation, setting up meetings and helping her understand cultural norms when necessary. He is conscientious and hard-working, cautious even, in his work setting. However, this has not always been the case, as we find out during the course of his dealings with Suzanne.
As the months progress, we will meet more of the key characters appearing in the Suzanne Jones series. In the meantime, if you want to see Suzanne, Charlie and Francine in action, you can find them in Counterfeit!, the first in the series, which came out last year. Deception! is due out later this year and Corruption! in autumn 2018.