Book review – Nairobi heat

2010-09-11 11:33

Mukoma wa Ngugi is a Kenyan poet and essayist, but Nairobi Heat, his first novel, displays no evidence of these literary pursuits. Instead, it’s a hard-boiled thriller with bodies – mostly of gunned-down thugs – all over the place.

The detective is Ishmael Fofona, a police ­officer in Madison, Wisconsin, who is a handy fellow with a firearm.

He’s called out when the body of a young woman is found on the stoep of the home of a Rwandan professor lecturing at a local university.

An anonymous caller ­suggests Fofona looks to Kenya for clues. So off he goes, an American cop out of his depth – but not for long.

The book reflects some of the concerns one finds in Mukoma’s essays, such as colonialism, and whites who “go native” and get it ­completely wrong.

There are numerous twists in the plot of Nairobi Heat, which looks like the first of a series.

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