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by Nick Brownlee
Piatkus, June 2009
398 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0749929065

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

BURN is the sequel to Nick Brownlee's successful first novel, BAIT. In fact, it picks up in a blaze of action not too long after the first book left off. The plot sees Jake Moore facing revenge after the events of the first novel, in addition to endeavouring to face down a ruthless property developer who is seeking to raze a local village to build a luxury hotel. In the meantime, Inspector Jouma, a Mombasa police officer, is investigating a spate of deaths in his city, but his boss's patience is wearing thin. It is not long before Jouma and Jake find that their paths are crossing again in what becomes a particularly eerie and unpleasant case.

BURN is a fast-paced and exciting novel that brings the dark and dirty streets of Mombasa alive. Brownlee has succeeded in establishing the same sense of place that was so powerful in BAIT, with readers familiar with Kenya easily able to recognize such iconic landmarks as Fort Jesus or famous restaurants like the Tamarind, an incredibly popular seafood restaurant and thereby have a personal connection with the novel.

The author has created a novel that works well with its two plots: one begins with a massive surprise before going on to simmer in the background, coming alive once again in a shocking denouement that will leave readers wondering what the next development in this series will be. The other paints a grim picture of corruption, abuse of power and horrific acts. He does not shy away from controversy when speaking plainly of some of the ills bedevilling Kenya, particularly in his criticism of the Kenyan police.

There is no doubt in my mind that, with each successive novel, Nick Brownlee's stock is rising. His prose is sharp, his characters interesting (and much less clichéd than in his previous novel – although an American property magnate could be a little stereotypical) and the plot innovative. Like BAIT, BURN is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, June 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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