Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit | Links ]


by Richard Crompton
Weidenfeld & Nicholson, January 2013
320 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0297867954

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Kenyan policeman Mollel, previously posted to distant traffic duties, is sent back to Nairobi and assigned the case of a girl found murdered in a Uhuru Park culvert. Following the drain upstream, he discovers that a manhole has recently been lifted in Orpheus House, a building apparently awaiting redevelopment by Nalo, a popular local evangelist, and Kingori, a powerful businessman. He also finds out that on the night of the death, the Government's heavy mob, the GSU, assembled in the Park for some secret purpose. It looks like he will have a problem finding answers, but Honey, a Maasai girl working as a prostitute, provides the key to solving the case.

According to the cover, THE HONEY GUIDE is the first Mollel mystery. The protagonist is an unusual one, a Maasai who has abandoned his village for a police career. The author reveals the tragic story of how Mollel lost his wife, leaving him with a son whom he loves but is unable to care for effectively. As a policeman, Mollel is driven with manic energy, but he has difficulty relating to others in ways that get results, and only the assistance of his temporary partner Kiunga enables him to make progress. Mollel is psychically stressed well beyond the normal, even for a fictional detective, and his very survival seems to be perpetually in doubt.

The city of Nairobi is central to the plot: its many neighbourhoods, from modern skyscrapers to sordid shantytowns, horrendous traffic, pollution and the crush of people. Tribal diversity underlies the cultural mix, and the author shows how cynically the tensions are exploited by the elite to buttress their political ambitions. The book is set at the time of the 2007 elections and Mollel's investigations take him to the heart of a voting fraud with wholesale substitution of rigged votes. The reaction of the disenfranchised is predictable and the result is chaos: house burnings, beatings and deaths. The fragility of social cohesion and the impact on lives already at the margin of what would be considered tolerable in the West is made very evident.

Richard Crompton is a former journalist and producer who lives in Nairobi, and it must be assumed he knows what he is talking about: the book is interesting if not necessarily engaging. Mollel is likewise worthy of note, although whether such a seemingly ill-fated saint-like character could survive more such episodes must be questionable. THE HONEY GUIDE informs and entertains, but don't expect the warm glow which made the Botswana novels of Alexander McCall Smith so popular.

Chris Roberts is a retired manager of shopping centres in Hong Kong, and now lives in Bristol, primarily reading.

Reviewed by Chris Roberts, February 2013

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit | Links ]
[ Home ]