Synopses & Reviews
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—who saved hundreds of people from the Rwandan genocide—accepts a position at the university to teach about “genocide and testimony.” Then a young woman is found murdered on his doorstep.
Local police Detective Ishmael—an African-American in an “extremely white” town—suspects the crime is racially motivated; the Ku Klux Klan still holds rallies there, after all. 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 him to a place still vibrating from the genocide that happened around its borders, where violence is a part of everyday life, where big-oil money rules and where the local cops shoot first and ask questions later—a place, in short, where knowing the truth about history can get you killed.
"The discovery of the body of an attractive young blonde woman on the Madison, Wis., doorstep of Joshua Hakizimana, popularly known as the 'black Schindler' for his courageous life-saving efforts during the Rwandan genocide, propels Ngugi's improbable first novel. When the high-profile police inquiry stalls without an ID of the victim, who was strangled, African-American detective Ishmael flies to Nairobi in response to an anonymous caller who tells him the truth behind the killing lies there. At the airport, Ishmael is met by his Kenyan counterpart, David Odhiambo, and soon the two are struggling to survive multiple gun battles. Ngugi (Hurling Words at Consciousness, a poetry collection), who was born in the U.S. but raised in Kenya, provides an engaging insider's view of the cultural divide between Americans and Africans, but some gaps in logic such as no one in the U.S. recognizing the murder victim may bother mystery fans. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
MUKOMA WA NGUGI
is a novelist and poet, whose books include the novel Nairobi Heat
and the poetry collection Hurling Words at Consciousness
. He was short listed for the Caine Prize for African writing in 2009 and for the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing.
His columns have appeared in the Guardian, International Herald Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, and he has been a guest on Democracy Now, Al Jazeera, and the BBC World Service. His stories and poetry have been published in the Kenyon Review, Kwani!, Chimurenga and Tin House Magazine, among other places.
Mukoma was born in 1971 in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in Kenya before returning to the United States for his undergraduate and graduate education. He is currently a professor of English at Cornell University.