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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick-fire read with roots in Rwanda's horrific recent past
A beautiful young woman is found dead on the steps of a house in a rich suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. Detective Ishmael (who actually does say "call me Ishmael" when asked for his name) is dispatched to investigate. The only possible suspect is Joseph Hakisimana, the owner of the house, but there is no evidence to connect him to the crime. Indeed, Hakisimnana turns out to...
Published on 19 Nov 2011 by Maxine Clarke

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent international thriller
The other two reviewers have written the basic story premise so I wont cover that again. One thing to note however, is that the product description which ends with reference to 'oil money' is misleading. This is not a book about oil money. Definitely a book about blood money. And in many ways, it is good that the writer has not gone down the well-trodden, cliched path of...
Published on 5 Nov 2011 by Peter Roxburgh


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick-fire read with roots in Rwanda's horrific recent past, 19 Nov 2011
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
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A beautiful young woman is found dead on the steps of a house in a rich suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. Detective Ishmael (who actually does say "call me Ishmael" when asked for his name) is dispatched to investigate. The only possible suspect is Joseph Hakisimana, the owner of the house, but there is no evidence to connect him to the crime. Indeed, Hakisimnana turns out to be a hero of Rwanda, having saved many of his fellow citizens from genocide and now involved in a foundation to help the rebuilding of the country and its survivors after the terrible civil wars there.

Ishmael's police chief decides to send him to Kenya as the only clue is an anonymous phone call from that country, promising some information about the woman's identity and who killed her. Ishmael is of African descent but has never visited that continent; the main part of this novel is about his experiences in Kenya and, later, Rwanda as he attempts to solve the case with the help of local detective "O" and a singer, Madeline. In the process, Ishmael has a personal voyage of discovery about his own identity.

The pace of this novel is cracking. As soon as Ishmael arrives in Kenya he and O rescue a schoolgirl from a vicious sexual attack and end up in a gun battle with the perpetrator's gang. The two get into bar fights, visit crime lords, get kidnapped, endure a terrifying car chase and discover bodies as they (mainly Ishmael) discover a network of corruption - but still not the identity of the dead girl. Eventually Ishmael attempts to leave the country via Uganda, and it is while he is travelling through Rwanda to get there that the crucial breakthrough of his case - somewhat coincidentally - occurs. The final part of the book takes place in Madison, involving a couple of plot twists.

Nairobi Heat is a fast read and a fascinating one. The author conveys much of the depth and pain of countries that are mired in poverty, corruption, constant violence and a hostile climate. The main characters of Ishmael, O, Madeline and a journalist called Mo represent interesting and sometimes moving viewpoints, but also are pretty cliched (not least Ishmael's relationships with women). The main downside of the novel is the rather unbelievable plot, in which people (mainly the bad guys) behave illogically and in unrealistically complex ways (I can't give the details here without providing spoilers). Many of the ins and outs are glossed over, particularly at the end, and some people's actions left unexplained. Despite these flaws, the book has a lot of power, most particularly in its treatment of the human side of the Rwandan genocide and its long effects on those who lived through it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent international thriller, 5 Nov 2011
By 
Peter Roxburgh (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
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The other two reviewers have written the basic story premise so I wont cover that again. One thing to note however, is that the product description which ends with reference to 'oil money' is misleading. This is not a book about oil money. Definitely a book about blood money. And in many ways, it is good that the writer has not gone down the well-trodden, cliched path of corruption in the Oil & Gas sector.

The writing is decent, not exceptional, with narration by Detective Ishmael, a black American who finds himself travelling to Kenya to solve the murder of a white girl found on the doorstep of an African hero.

Although the writing isn't exceptional, the story has many characters connected and plenty of twists and turns that kept my interest and encouraged me to finish the book in a couple of a days.

The strength of the book is the story. The characters aren't developed and you feel not affiliation for any of them, even Ishmael. The writing isn't particularly artistic and there is little in the way of description or detail.

There are touches on the differences between life in Kenya and America but they are perfunctory and in many cases cliched and stereotypical.

However, if you have an interest in crime novels then this will probably be refreshingly dissimilar to most of what you have read in regards to the story and the twists. If you have an interest in racial politics then this book will interest you. If you have an interest in African history then this book will certainly be of interest. Or if you are looking for a reasonably interesting holiday read then this wont disappoint.

Hope that helps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A piano keyboard, 2 Nov 2011
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
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Set in Kenya (most of the time), this is a really good thriller from an author new to me.

He puts together an initially confusing story which, always in the background, is the horror tale of genocide in Rwanda, though it's not easy to see this at the beginning.

A body of a young girl is found on the doorstep of a Kenyan 'hero' in Wisconsin, so, at first, he becomes the prime suspect in the killing.

However, Detective Ishmael of the Madison Police Department, having been enticed to Nairobi on a dangerously elusive phone call, soon begins to question just who did kill the girl.

It's a clever book, with enough twists and a decent splattering of action to keep the reader interested.

Where it does fall down is with the constant references to black people, white people, black people again. It's almost like a literary piano keyboard and it tends to slow the pace and spoil the flow. I appreciate that it's important for a black Amrican going to Kenya where he's viewed, in his mind, mainly, as a whitey to gain his standing but I think these references are overdone.

Still, Detective Ishmael plods on, avoiding death but not always pain, along the way. He's a sharpshooter, it seems as a whole plethora of people of both colours and a few inbetween, try to head him off at the pass.

The story reads well. It opens the reader's eyes to what goes on in Kenya without, fortunately, extolling its virtues too much as a tourist attraction. Frankly, if you were to come up against the characters in this book in Nairobi, you'd be forgiven for wishing to find a rather more relaxing place to spend your time. But certainly, don't let this put you off reading the book. I shall look out for the author's next foray into thriller writing.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Some very improbable moments in the book., 18 Mar 2014
By 
Mary Alleguen (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
I found that there were quite a number of improbable moments in the text. Would a policeman from US be able to walk in to Kenya with a gun? Would a US policeman leave a crime scene immediately after it happened without talking to local police etc. Am afraid it didn't do it for me.

M.A.
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1.0 out of 5 stars First couple of pages are good, 21 May 2013
By 
R. Lawson "clavedoc" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
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This book starts in promising fashion. A woman is found murdered on the door step of a man who reports the case, but seems oddly detached. He's not obviously implicated in the murder but something doesn't seem quite right. Set up promisingly, the book takes a nose dive and proceeds downwards from here.
The man is African and the detective working the case is African American. In theory the 'compare and contrast' between the two should be interesting but it's disappointingly shallow. The case itself is worse. There's a tip off that the solution is to be found in Nairobi. Our hero goes, linking up with a local partner. With nothing much to go on we then have a repeated cycle of; cruise bars looking for hints, get jumped, big fight, hero unscathed, baddy blabs just enough before they meet sticky end to give the next clue. There's no actual detective work like figuring out clues and assembling facts or any such tedium. One might have thought that with quite a few people in Nairobi just going and looking for someone in random city centre bars was a bit of a long shot, even if you were sure who you were looking for in the first place, but in this book it works every time.
The formula suggests there should be love interest as well as a bit of head bashing and sure enough along comes a local beauty. Entirely overlooking the fact that in the circumstances she is encountered she should be considered a potential suspect or at least accomplice, our hero leaps incautiously and inappropriately into bed in a way that would make James Bond blush.
The plot tries to work in some bigger issues relating to genocide, but unfortunately the detail simply doesn't convince. It's not the only detective novel/thriller that fails to answer why someone isn't simply killed off quietly and simply rather than erecting a complex scenario bound to fail, but this is a particularly blatant case of such a shambles.
Please don't get enticed by the first few pages. This book will only let you down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, Fabulous, Wonderful, funny, Interesting., 6 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
Now this is a book I can read over and over again. The writer manages to capture the reader and transport them to Kenya. Absolutely fabulous. Now I hear Hollywood is doing a movie version of the book. Can't wait for the movie. I would highly recommend the book to anyone.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Kenyan thriller, 2 Jan 2013
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E. Dudley - See all my reviews
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read it from start to finish in one go - which is something, I suppose. Predictable plot - as an author he lacks the style of his father, unfortunately....but glad to have read it. Maybe I should read another of his before judging too harshly....
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not good, 20 Nov 2012
By 
James Rands (Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
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The story starts off in the US in small-town America where the protagonist is one of only two black officers on the local police force. He is called upon to investigate the body of a pretty white girl found on the doorstep of an African professor. Moments later we are transplanted to Nairobi. Our hero has followed the trail to Africa where the professor has become a legend for rescuing civilians from the genocide in Rwanda.

The central idea is of a strange homecoming as the black American discovers the land of his roots which he has never been to before and contrasts it with the land where he grew up. The problem is the author doesn't seem to know either East Africa or the US. Despite his name he describes Kenya as though his only experience of it comes from reading the Lonely Planet. There is a superficiality to the details like Nyoma Choma (barbecued meat) and Tusker (pissy larger) which reeks of a desperate attempt to paint some atmosphere onto a fairly crappy detective story.

His description of life in America, I am less well placed to comment on, but it ain't convincing.

The author's writing style has all the subtlety and sophistication of a cheap twenties detective novel but none of the period charm. There's some pretty gratuitous sex but that doesn't lift the tone of the book.

Overall, not worth the time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting crime thriller, 2 April 2012
This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
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I f I were judging this purely on the quality of the writing, I think I'd be a lot harsher on this novel. The writing, while it gets you from A to B is nothing particularly spectacular. In places, the characters can feel a little stereotyped and the crime aspect doesn't add anything exciting to the process.

Where this novel excels (for me, at any rate) is the way that the author uses setting.

There is plenty on the plot in the other reviews here, so I won't dwell on that. Suffice to say that the murder of a young white woman, found on the doorstep of a man (who it appears is a hero from the Rwandan conflict), leads Detective Ishmael (an African-American) to Kenya to further investigate the crime.

It is a bit fish-out-of-water, but it is interesting to see Ishmael being called 'white-man' by people in Nairobi. The novel alludes to the conscience salving attempts by wealthy white people to make things better in poorer countries while not realising that they may be sending their money the wrong way. Or, as has happened in the novel, that their actions may be denying agency to local people by casting them as people who need to be saved. This kind of thing isn't always easy to read, but it's the kind of thing that needs to be said.

Beyond that, though, I was a little disappointed at the convenience of some of the events and the end was a little... ugh.

Still, it's a quick read and I don't regret reading it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A solid but unexceptional thriller..., 11 Jan 2012
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) (Paperback)
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Nairobi Heat is a decent, fast paced thriller, set largely in Nairobi and the surrounding suburbs. The main character is a US homicide detective, sent to Kenya in the process of investigating a murder. The text is very centred around the plot, which never really slows down - it's very fast-paced, with enough convolutions to keep thriller fans happy. That said, several of them, including the conceit which moves the protagonist to Nairobi in the first place, are a tad contrived. Still, it all barrels along at a good rate, and so long as you aren't going to think about it too much, it makes for a solid read.

That said, whilst the plot is fairly taut and focused, the characters suffer for it - none are thoroughly well realised. There is the occasional batch of philosophical musings in an effort to put some depth on the protagonist, but these seem more like an afterthought to all the investigating, running and the occasional gunfight.

On the other hand, the book does excel at creating atmosphere and fully realising a location, particularly in the sections set in Nairobi. Several of the locales match my own memories very well, and are wonderfully evoked; the author is clearly drawing on a well of personal experience, and the writing benefits from this. The discussion of the Rwandan genocide is harrowing, and sensitively handled.

The prose itself is a bit choppy; some of the dialogue seems stilted, whilst other parts flow very naturally. Overall it works well enough, and is never unclear - but some sections flow much better than others, which is a shame.

Overall, this is a snappy, somewhat short, thriller, which uses an excellently presented `exotic' location in order to compensate for a few of the more threadbare elements of the plot. Not ground-breaking, but certainly worth the read.
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Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime)
Nairobi Heat (Melville International Crime) by Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Paperback - 20 Oct 2011)
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