Nairobi Heat
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Nairobi Heat

3.08 of 5 stars 3.08  ·  rating details  ·  268 ratings  ·  89 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 doorste...more
ebook, 207 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Melville International Crime (first published October 28th 2009)
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America meets Africa

I just love to travel around the world in my living room. Ngugi takes us from Madison Wisconsin to Africa and back again. Along the way he walks us through social problems in both places. He does great job of providing a mini history and political culture lesson of the Rwandan genocide and its impact. Racism and violence are highlighted but so is the energy of the African people and how deeply they care for one another despite the corruption. When Ishmael, who is a black Amer...more
Brooke Williams
I wanted to like this book, particularly as the author's father is Ngugi wa Thiong'o, an incredible writer. But this book is so bad, you guys. SO bad.

The writing is awkward and off-putting, the story unconvincing and predictable, the main character terrible at his job, and the plot absurd. A local police force in a small city decides to send its lead detective to Kenya because he received an anonymous phone call? An entire nation goes totally bonkers over the murder of an unidentified woman beca...more
Aaron Mcquiston
The good news is that this is a quick paced, entertaining police procedural. It only took me a few hours to read and I felt like I did not waste my time. I enjoyed the crime and the very over-the-top action, but in the end, the things that I hold onto are the moral questions that are presented. Should we feel guilty for not helping a person in need? Can we buy our way out of this guilt? The answers to these questions are not really answered in this novel, but they are important questions to brin...more
Heading: Greed, Trickery, and Justice

The call came at 2 AM from the police chief of Madison, Wisconsin - a murder had been committed in the wealthy exclusive enclave of Maple Bluff. Detective Ishmael Fofona, an African-American on the “mostly white police force” in an “extremely white town,” knew that if the call came directly from the police chief there had to be a political angle to the crime. An unidentified beautiful blonde woman is found dead on the front steps of the home of Joshua Hakizim...more
There is a pretty good novel hiding in this book, if it edited and rewritten.

The novel reads like a first draft. There are many points at which you feel like an editor could have pushed an author to make changes. For example, the author touches on issues of race: being an African American in the US vs. in Africa as well as the role of white in Africa (colonial exploiters and others who appear to be well intentioned missionaries) but these themes are not well developed and the character's discuss...more
Robert Carraher
Most books are lifted from the realm of '”just good” to “great” usually through the advancement or elevation of parts of the writers craft. Story, plot, characters, pacing, structure, etc…Think Raymond Chandler and his elegant use of language in a tough guy setting or James Ellroy and his staccato sentences and telegraphic prose style.

Others use original themes in the pacing – James Patterson’s short chapters for instance drawn almost as scenes from a film or Hemingway’s short, declarative sent...more
I'm always excited to read crime stories set in other cultures, and so I picked up this Kenyan-set book with great anticipation. The story actually opens in the American college town of Madison, Wisconsin, where a beautiful young white woman has been found dead on the doorstep of a visiting Rwandan professor. A local African-American police detective named Ishmael catches the case, and is soon sucked into a whirlpool of confusion involving the legacy of the genocide in Rwanda 15 years in the pas...more
Fast-paced and loosely constructed, but with an engaging and interesting plot, Nairobi Heat follows police detective Ishmael as he investigates the murder of a young white woman who holds mysterious ties to Kenya. As an African-American visiting the continent for the first time, Ishmael's journey to Africa reveals the gaps in his understanding of black politics outside America, race relations within his own country, and his own sense of place within the law, bringing the potential for massive ch...more
I REALLY wished I would have liked this book better.

It had so many elements that could have made it awesome. But the characters just did not live up to the lives and times they were supposed to be leading.

The Rwandan genocide, trauma, African diaspora in the US, racism, East Africa, NGOs in Africa, corruption and aid...So many things that could have made a crime novel outstanding. Just never gelled for me.

I was never in Nairobi completely in this book, I got glimpses, but it was a different one...more
Nothing in this book is remotely believable or plausible. Plot, characters, motivations and consequences are all equally ludicrous.
I picked up this book to exchange at a murder mystery bookswap and it was a fresh reminder of why this genre is so exciting. This book is a short pleasant read, where you're figuring out each step of the African-American cop's journey in Africa finding the past history of the African man on whose doorstep a dead blonde woman was found. There is no connection between them, but the cop thinks otherwise and after a random phone call from Kenya, he is compelled to go there and figure out what clues...more
Michael Niemann
A dead white woman is found outside Joshua Hakizimana's house. Joshua is a bit of a celebrity. During the Rwandan genocide he was headmaster of a school, which he turned into a safe haven for Tutsis. The genocidaires respected him because they were his former students. Joshua is the public face of the Never Again Foundation which receives support from many people, some famous, others not.

The case lands in the lap of Ishmael, a black detective in a very white town, Madison, WI. The leads peter ou...more
Nina Chachu
Pretty good and entertaining detective story, set in the US (Midwest) and East Africa (Kenya mostly). Quite a bit of killing, which didn't always seem justified, but I guess that added to the hardboiled character of the "hero" Ishmael. The plot is a little complicated, but in the end all is resolved - sort of. Still I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ngugi (Jr)'s books.
Kevin Axe
This book had some pretty big loopholes, the protagonist's relationship with both love interests is confusing and nonsensical (within minutes of meeting a singer/hooker with a heart of gold, they're soul mates, and she's willing to upend her life for him). Strangest of all was every scene involving the KKK. I understand that the author set part of the book in Madison due to his familiarity with the city (to the point where he assumes the reader has some familiarity with locations such as Allied...more
it was fun reading about different neighborhoods in nairobi, but generally i found this book pretty poorly written and filled with overwrought, cliche phrases. a bit disappointing.
Starts on a doorstep in Madison. Written by a UW graduate.
Oh Mukoma Wa Ngugi, please write more!
Detective Ishmael, a black American from Madison, Wisconsin, investigates the murder of a white, unknown girl, whose body is found on the doorstep of a well-known Rwandan peace activist. While trying to understand who really killed the girl, the traces take him to Nairobi, where he must try to find the source to understand what really happened, who killed the girl, and who is behind it all.
While the African crime isn't as popular as the Scandinavian one (blame Stieg Larsson for being the gatewa...more
Ann Collette
Slight but smart and entertaining account of a Paul Ruseabagina-like Rwandan hero now living in the USA who comes home one night to find the dead body of a beautiful young white girl on his doorstep. An African American detective is assigned to crack the case and based on a three sentence call from a stranger, telling him he needs to go to Nairobi in order to solve the case, the detective takes off for Kenya. Of course, it would never be that easy to get permission, let alone funding, to investi...more
I'm not quite sure what to think of this book. Overall it was well-written. And the author/narrator could get quiet poetic and proverbial in parts, which I love, because I love poetry and proverbs. And then a paragraph or two later there'd be a bloody bang-bang shoot 'em up scene. That's cool too, but side-by-side, I found this jarring to read.

I liked it well enough to read other titles by the same author, but not enough to start read murder mysteries as a habit. I ordinarily don't ready myster...more

What could have been a decent, if unexciting murder mystery.....rapidly turned into a well written thriller. Set mainly in Nairobi, Kenya....we find our protagonist Ishmael, a Detective from Madison, Wisconsin (!), on the case of a young white woman...Identity Unknown....whose body was found on the doorstep of a prominent University professor. Not just any professor, though...Joshua Hakizimana being a famous hero of the Rwandan Genocide

Life in Nairobi proves a bit tricky, as Ishmael discovers af...more
Short but full of action, violence, and also incredulity. We have a black detective, Ishmael, from Madison, WI investigating the murder of young white woman on the doorstep of a visiting African professor who just happens to be a hero from the Rwandan genocide. Ishmael suspects the professor and there's the issue of identification of the victim-nobody knows who she is. Ishmael gets a cryptic tip call telling him the answers are in Africa. So off he goes to Kenya and is transformed there from an...more
Lakis Fourouklas
This is the first crime novel by an African writer that I’ve ever read and I can honestly say that I liked it. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that I cannot really label it, say that is that it belongs to one genre or another. The non-stop action, the blood splattered scenes and the twists and turns, somehow remind me of an American thriller; its social background though is so solid and realistic, that maybe I would do it a disservice by saying that this is just a thriller and nothing more.
It al...more
Laura Davis
It’s a rather weird set of circumstances that leads Detective Ishmael from Madison, Wisconsin to Nairobi, Kenya. An unidentified woman turns up dead at the Madison home of Joshua Hakizimana, an immigrant professor dubbed the “black Schindler” for his heroic role in rescuing women and children during the Rwandan genocide. As every lead in Ishmael’s investigation dead ends, a mysterious phone call sends him to Kenya in search of justice. Instead, he finds truth.

Along with Nairobi detective Odhiamb...more
This police procedural novel/mystery thriller had an original, engaging plot.The beginning is set in Madison, Wisconsin where Ishmael, an African-American homicide detective works under the direction of a black police chief. The setting is predominately white, and the Ku Klux Klan still hold rallies.
The mystery begins when a pretty,young blond girl is found murdered on the doorstep of a University professor, Joshua Hakizimana. No one can discover the identity of the girl.Ishmael questions Joshu...more
Terry Mulligan
Nairobi Heat by Mukoma Wa Ngugi

The setting for "Nairobi Heat" switches between Madison, Wisconsin and Nairobi, Kenya. When the author first takes the reader to Africa, "...the real Africa," I thought I'd stumbled upon a page-turning summer read:

"O veered off the main road and onto a dirt track and the city disappeared from view. We travelled on, headlights tunnelling through the darkness... then turned into a short, dirty street that ran between two rows of poorly built wooden houses... we almos...more
I read Mũkoma Wa Ngũgĩ’s Nairobi Heat in a single sitting last evening and well onto the night. Talent is one of those things that aren’t passed on to offspring but let it be known that once I found out he was the son of none other than literary giant Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (and this after I had finished reading the book), I could not help think that one thing was for sure: talent definitely runs in this family.
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Absurd. This novel reads like a stoned teenager who went to watch an action movie and is clumsily trying to explain the plot: ”And then he took out his gun and killed them, bang! bang!, and there was lots of blood and then there was a hot chick and then and then...”. It's a shame because I was so excited when I picked this randomly from the bookshop's discount bin. A crime-thriller mixed with Rwandan history, covering issues such as genocide, racial conflict, and black identity in the US vs Keny...more
This book starts off with an interesting mystery and travels through territories of African-American experiences of racism, class stratification, African politics, poverty, law enforcement policies and politics, and international aid industrial complexes. The book offers a slice of the internal workings of an African-American cop in Madison, WI (where the KKK is still active) and his ambivalence about going to Kenya to explore a mystery that his gut indicates is more complicated than the surface...more
In doing my Read Around the World, I've hoped to gain insight into different countries. I certainly hope that's not what I got from Nairobi Heat. This book is incredibly violent and increasingly almost offhand about it as the story unfolds.

There are many such mysteries set in the US, though, so I'm, perhaps naively, setting aside much of the violence and instead taking to heart the descriptions of the people, landscape, and customs of Kenya.

The struggle of identity of the African American who fi...more
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