Set in Uganda, The Deadly Ambition paints a society where some people will do anything to get rich.
The book’s main character, Eva Busagwa owns a spare parts shop, which he set up with proceeds from a bank robbery. After the shop is destroyed by a fire, Busagwa determines that he will not stay poor, and that he must get rich quick by whatever means.
He carefully lays out plans to eliminate the richest men in the area in order to take over their property. With calculated deceit and manipulation, he murders the family of John Bosco and takes over their property in Bunono village. Next he murders Vincent Kalule, and marries his widow, hoping to gain access to his (Kalule’s) property in Kamengo. But standing in the way of Busagwa’s evil plans are Anastasia Kirabo, the only surviving member of John Bosco’s family and Ivan Kalule, the late Kalule’s son.
The story plays out as Busagwa unsuccessfully tries to find and eliminate the two.
Along the way, the author draws us into Busagwa’s past, helping us to better understand the roots of his excessive cruelty, ruthlessness and greed. As a child, Busagwa was unloved by his parents, who held him responsible for the accidental drowning of his twin brother in a pond near his home. Thus, not knowing love as a child, he is incapable of loving others. The only person he comes close to caring for is his only friend JJ, who gets killed in a robbery gone wrong.
His inability to care for others is evident throughout the book. When his shop burns down, he is unmoved by the fact that three of his workers died in the fire.
“So what if three workers died?”, he blurts angrily, “The issue here is that all my investment was turned to ashes!”
Ultimately, Busagwa’s plans are foiled, and he meets the end that his evil ways surely deserve.
In The Deadly Ambition, Glaydah Namukasa’s talents as a storyteller are evident. Her characters are compelling, and the tempo is sustained thus keeping readers engaged. Even the evil Busagwa is made, somewhat human, with the exposure of his vulnerabilities and troubled upbringing.
At the end, one is forced to ask, “Would Busagwa have been a different man if he had been loved by his parents?”