A cop from Wisconsin pursues a killer through the terrifying slums of Nairobi and the memories of genocide.
In Madison, Wisconsin, it’s a big deal when African peace activist Joshua Hakizimana—famous for saving hundreds of people from the Rwandan genocide—accepts a position at the university. When a young girl is found murdered on his doorstep. For local police Detective Ishmael—an African-American in an “extremely white” town—it seems like the kind of crime that happens in an area where the Ku Klux Klan still holds rallies.
But then he gets a mysterious phone call: “If you want the truth, you must go to its source. The truth is in the past. Come to Nairobi.” It’s the beginning of a journey that will take Ishmael to a place still vibrating from the surrounding genocide, where NGO money rules and where the local cops shoot first and ask questions later. And although it’s the land of his ancestors, it becomes a disorienting and terrifying quest through the slums of Nairobi, a place where knowing the truth about history can kill you.
Nairobi Heat takes us to Kenya with a refreshing authority... Besides the usual fun and thrill of crime novels, what makes the book a delicious read is that it’s also packed with engaged and relevant social commentary."
--The New York Times ( Read the full review here)
"If you're weary of the glut of Scandinavian crime fiction, take a trip to Kenya's teeming capital city. "
--The New York Post
"A fast-paced hard-boiled crime novel... We suggest you pick up a copy if you know what's good for you."
"Just as the works of James Ellroy and Carl Hiaasen dig beneath the glitter of Hollywood and South Beach, respectively, to reveal a nasty, fetid underside, [Nairobi Heat] rips away images of the Sahara and safaris and goes beyond nightly news pictures of deprivation."
--The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (US)
"Ishmael Fofona, Ngugi's detective, may not as yet have taken over from Kurt Wallander in our affections, but I'm hoping it's only a matter of time."
--The Telegraph (UK)
"Sizzling...an action-packed cross-cultural ride, crackling with detail garnered from the author's experience reporting on the African communities in which this story is set."
--Barnes & Noble Review
"An engaging insider's view of the cultural divide between Americans and Africans."
“Ngugi’s ability to weave a complex narrative, which connects crime and racial tensions in the US to an in-depth knowledge of Kenya and its nuances, to Rwanda and its genocide past within this African crime thriller, is nothing but the work of a genius craftsman and wordsmith.”
--New African Magazine
“Nairobi Heat’s biggest triumph is the way it forces us to re-examine accepted narratives and received truths.”
--The Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
Mukoma discusses the novel on The Strand interview on the BBC World Service.