Set against the international background of the late Victorian rich and privileged The African Millionaire is a far-fetched and farcical romp in which gullible Sir Charles Vandrift MP is slowly but steadily parted from his vast wealth by a series of confidence tricks and deceptions. Many and varied are the disguises of the perpetrator, a man revered amongst the criminal fraternity and even admired by police authorities in several countries: the redoubtable Colonel Clay, so called for his ability to mold his persona and blend in to any background.
As the story unfolds it becomes obvious that Vandrift is not the pillar of probity or propriety that we expect of a knight of the realm and that he may, indeed, be of less moral worth than his worthwhile adversary who protests that his deeds are guided by higher moral principles and values. Should Clay be caught, will the jury find him guilty? Despite the proselytising of the author, a man of strong political conviction, the story has an inspired lunacy which keeps it entertaining as it moves swiftly to the close and we are prompted to reflect on the responsibility of our fiscal administrators, their subsequent substantial rewards and the misery they can sometimes wreak amongst poorer mortals.