Blood is Dirt is Robert Wilson's third installment in the Brude Medway series, thrillers set in West Africa.
The Medway series works for two reasons: Bruce Medway is an interesting anti-hero and Wilson is very good at physical description, and he makes the cities and countryside of this region come alive.
About Bruce Medway. The idea of a lone hero battling his (or her) own demons while simultaneously trying to achieve justice for his clients is a standard trope for fleshing out PIs. The usual way this gets played out is that the hero has some terrible unresolved loss in his past that impels him toward life as a loner, and perhaps as a lone avenger. Medway is a different spin: his troubles are not in the past, but are right there in this story. His partnership with Bagado is all but defunct, the partners are almost out of work, and clearly desperate for a paying client. Nor is all set with Medway's personal life, his on-and-off relationship with his German girlfried appears at risk once again.
When he describes the stultifying and oppressive heat, for example, and how it affects his characters, I get clammy myself. And it's not just the heat that he describes, it's the look, the feel, even the smell of these places, and the contrast between the mostly-European operated hotels and fancy restaurants and the varying degrees of misery that the vast majority of the population lives in.
So when Napier Briggs comes to Medway's office with a sketchy story about having been scammed out of nearly $2 million, and having been referred by a bureaucrat in the Lagos office of the Britsh Foreign Office, but then refuses to give Medway and Bagado enough detail to allow them to assist him, its clear that Briggs is Trouble, and the partners initially turn him away.
Even so, out of his desperation, Medway trails Briggs to his hotel, in hopes of turning Briggs into a paying client. At that point, Briggs then offers Medway a large fee to chaperone him at a meeting at which Briggs is supposed to be paid a small fortune. Medway agrees to accompany Briggs, but when he takes his eyes off of Briggs for just a moment, Briggs disappears, and soon thereafter turns up dead. I won't spoil more of the plot, but needless to say, the point then becomes to determine who killed Napier Briggs and why.