For Kariuki, life in a small village in Kenya is one great adventure. The best part of his day is the walk home from school, when he is free from both his bullying headmaster and his mother's long list of chores. The landscape around his village is beautifully wild, and Kariuki knows it well. One day Kariuki meets Nigel, a boy from England who has come to visit his grandfather, the fearsome Bwana Ruin, who owns the farm where the villagers work. The villagers call Nigel the mzungu boy (westerner), and view him with suspicion and fear; but not Kariuki.
One day the boys decide to hunt down the meanest warthog in the forest. The hunt takes them deeper into the jungle than Kariuki has ever gone, and all at once his beloved forest becomes a frightening place. Dangerous creatures live in the jungle, including the mau-mau, the men with guns who are plotting against Bwana Ruin and the white soldiers. And when Nigel suddenly disappears, will Kariuki be able to save his friend?
In this novel, the author captures a time of innocence, wild beauty, and the growing violence that eventually changed the entire structure of colonial Africa.