Dell paperback edition
One imagines as well that the success of fellow American Matthew Head's (art critic John Canaday) first African mystery, The Devil in the Bush (1945), may have had some influence of Iams' choice of setting.
While Iams' Christmas is an enjoyable tale, I preferred Boat, in part for the comparative originality of the colonial African setting.
To be sure, both are smoothly written novels--Iams was a skilled popular writer--with some appealing humor; yet Boat also boasts a plot that kept me on my toes. I did not foresee the solution.
Boat could have been alternately titled The Gorilla Box Murder, for it details the fallout when the American consul in Brazzaville is found dead from poison in a box that was supposed to contain a gorilla, Mama Bu-Bu, consigned for shipment to the United States.
Boat has fine humor (the murdered man incidentally was an objectionable individual whom everyone justifiably loathed), often directed at the diplomatic service (there's also an amusing portrait of a fish-out-of-water FBI man), and an ingratiating narrative. Like Iams' previous novel, I found it a book that could be finished in an evening with much enjoyment. The plot is clever and the local color first rate. Recommended.