Nairobi Heat by Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Nairobi Heat coverA dead white woman is found outside Joshua Hakizimana’s house. Joshua is a bit of a celebrity. During the Rwandan genocide he was headmaster of a school, which he turned into a safe haven for Tutsis. The genocidaires respected him because they were his former students. Joshua is the public face of the Never Again Foundation which receives support from many people, some famous, others not.

The case lands in the lap of Ishmael, a black detective in a very white town, Madison, WI. The leads peter out quickly, the racial dimensions take over, the black police chief is under pressure to produce result. The Joshua’ fame doesn’t quite make up for the fact that he’s African and the victim was white and female.

With his investigation slowing down, Ishmael receives a phone call telling him that the true leads are to be found in Nairobi, Kenya. Ishmael is sent to Nairobi where he meets up with David Odhiambo or O for short, of the local police.

Together, the two unravel the mystery. In the process, they meet a nefarious gallery of crooks, small time and not so small time. They end up solving the case, though plenty of bodies remain behind. Ishmael is the kind of cop who’ll do what it takes to see justice served even if that’s illegal.

I’m a sucker for any mystery in Africa. And this one does not disappoint. There are a few odd turns in the narrative, for example, it seems rather unlikely that a police chief in Madison will send his detective willy-nilly to Kenya. But once you get over that, the story flows very fast.

Mukoma wa Ngugi is the son of Kenya’s most famous author Ngugi wa Thiong’o. I look forward to reading more of his mysteries.

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