Nairobi Heat is a crime novel set mainly, as the title suggests, in Nairobi. It is the debut novel by American-Kenyan writer Mukoma Wa Ngugi. I chose this book as part of my reading challenge for this year is to extend my reading to writers from parts of the world new to me. Nairobi Heat seemed to fit the bill perfectly. It is a good and fast paced crime thriller. The story starts not in Nairobi, but in Wisconsin, USA, where a young white woman is found murdered on the doorstep of Rwandan peace activist, Joshua Hakizimana. The detective assigned the case is Ishmael, an African-American and out of the blue he gets a telephone call saying that the answer to the mystery was to be found in Nairobi. So detective Ishmael flies off to Nairobi, where he teams up with local detective Odhiambo, known as O to all and sundry. Together to get involved in all kinds of violent scraps as they seek out the truth behind the mysterious murder of a white girl in Wisconsin. A convoluted and multi-layered case it turn out to be. Joshua Hakzimana is the public face of a charity raising millions of pounds for the victims of the Rwandan genocide. However all is not what it seems to be with the charity and its offices in Nairobi. O and Ishmael have to dig pretty deep and in doing so uncover some very murky going-ons.
On the whole this was an enjoyable read and worth it for my first foray into this part of the world. However it has to be said that the two detectives are not above dishing out their own version of justice. So it is a rather ambivalent tale, morally wise. The other slight drawback to the book is that it is not wholly a Kenyan novel. The author is an American, though he was brought up for part of his life in Kenya. As the mystery starts and ends in the USA and the main character is an American detective, I got the feeling that the novel was written primarily for an American or Western audience. I must now try and find a good crime novel by an East African writer, who lives in the region and writes for the people there.