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Black Star Nairobi

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  166 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Two cops—one American, one Kenyan—team up to track down a deadly terrorist.

It’s December 2007. The Kenyan presidential elections have gotten off to a troubled start, with threats of ethnic violence in the air, and the reports about Barack Obama on the campaign trail in the United States are the subject of newspaper editorials and barstool debates. And Ishmael and O have ju
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 29th 2013 by Melville International Crime (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  166 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sample-list
“A day before the explosion at the Norfolk Hotel, O and I stood in the middle of the infamous Ngong Forest, looking at the body of what had once been a suit-wearing tall black man. Devoured by the wild animals of Ngong, the man’s corpse looked more like an animal carcass. This was the worst kind of death–the victim barely resembled a human being.” From the start, Ngugi’s intense, albeit grisly, second Detective Ishmael novel (after NAIROBI HEAT) is a meditative, thrill ride featuring two–no, thr ...more
John Rouse
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mukoma Wa Ngugi’s second crime novel is again about the adventures of the Kenyan-American detective, Ishmael and his Kenyan friend Odhiambo as this time they try to track down those responsible for the bombing of the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, a bombing that left ten Americans, five Europeans and fifty Kenyans dead. The fictional action takes place in 2007--at an interesting juncture in actual American and Kenyan history, just after the Senator Barack Obama’s announcement of his candidacy for the ...more
Francis Chen
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Black Star Nairobi was life-changing and extraordinary, never have I read through a book so fastening and with such vigor, for it has made me see the world in lenses I have neglected to see through before. The transition from a murder victim in a forest to unraveling worldwide plot really provides the exhilaration I need to pass through my relatively mundane and docile life. A must-read for those willing to embark on a detective adventure against overwhelming odds from criminal malice and politi ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I engaged with this thriller because of the real backdrop it is set against, the near civil war in 2006-7 in Kenya following the political elections. Many people died and yet it is something people have readily forgotten. There are some good references to historical facts. However, the writing this time is a little choppy, doesn't flow as much as in the first book. The side story of the characters in Mexico is a little unbelievable in the great scheme of the story. ...more
Emily Van Herik
Apr 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a solid read throughout with a compelling mystery/espionage plot that moves fast, well drawn characters, and complex morality. But the ending really put this over the top. It’s a really great novel, and I’ll definitely be putting the first on my list.
Meryll Levine Page
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
For mystery readers, Ngugi offers an intriguing plot that spans two continents and embroils the
reader in Kenyan and global politics. It's a page turner.
Erik Wennermark
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
abandoned half way in - too much telling, not enough showing.
Mary Anne
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
The action never stops.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Nairobi Heat, the first book in this series by the son of Kenya's most famous writer (Ngugi wa Thiong'o), was a bit of a disappointment. The Kenyan setting was vivid, but the crime story was very weak. I picked this up hoping for a stronger story to carry me along.

Set against the 2007 elections, the book finds African-American expatriate Ishmael eking out a living of sorts in partnership with his Kenyan cop buddy from the first book. Living with his Rwandan refugee, slam-poetess girlfriend, he
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very random selection at the library. Influenced mostly by the fact that it's Melville House. But it ended up being somehow a way to still engage with the world of Sense8 (cancelled right around the time I read this book -- *sob*). I don't think I've read anything set in Kenya before -- so everything I know about Nairobi and the tribes of Kenya is pretty much from Sense8.

I know I said crime/mystery wasn't my genre when I reviewed another crime novel two books ago. It seems I read one or two a
David Kenvyn
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Anyone who thinks that Mukoma wa Ngugi has let his imagination run riot in this story of mayhem and murder should read Antjie Krog's "Country of my Skull" or Peter Haris' "A Just Defiance" to find out what really happened in Vlakplaas, South Africa, and how far people can be prepared to go in order to control events.

This is a story, but the political riots following the elections in Kenya in 2007 happened, and were as murderous as described in the book. Ngugi posits an idea about the cause which
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Mukoma wa Ngugi’s second book and the sequel to his first book, Nairobi Heat. I read Nairobi Heat last year and really enjoyed it. So, I was very excited to read Black Star Nairobi. I started this book with great expectations and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. I was engaged and on the edge from beginning to end. This book was so well written, and the characters (already well established in the first book) were developed enough to refresh the memory of those who read book one and ...more
So, the second book in the series is even harder in content and Background as in the story itself. The political chaos in Kenya is the backdrop against which the two detectives try to solve a murder case. They are drawn into complex circumstances and their own lives are constantly put in danger, as are those of their loved ones.
I liked it, but I don't like the general understanding that it is ok to take the law into your own two hands. However, in the circumstances described it seems understande
May 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: kenya
Too much death and destruction for me in this thriller! African American cop has followed Rwandan girlfriend to Kenya where she is presently living. Has a detective agency with a Kenyan cop. Bombs go off (unfortunately this part if very accurate) - the three of them go off to chase the bad guys. And are there every plenty of bad guys! Who shoot, kill, maim, knife, etc with great effectiveness and abandon. Always interested in reading about Africa (and by an African author too) - but this one was ...more
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read the previous book by Mukoma wa Ngugi about his Nairobi detectives. Black Star Nairobi advances in time with the same characters and is just as well written. And while this is the continuation of the cultural adjustments from the perspective of an African American ex-detective living in Nairobi, Black Star is a much darker side of the politics of Nigeria, making it a much more difficult read. This is fair warning. While a good read, the read is not an easy one.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
First-Reads review.
This is a great detective novel with an eye opening look at African politics. The action takes you to Africa, Mexico, and the USA. The plot is interesting and, at times, very fast-paced. At other times it lost it's flow and had me flipping back a few pages. Because of the search features available on an e-reader, this book would have been much more enjoyable in the e-book edition.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book was a Goodreads Giveaway.

This novel follows a Detective team in Nairobi as they investigate the dead body of an American found in the Ngong Forest. One of the detectives is an African American from Madison, Wisconsin who has an interesting perspective to Kenyan crime and politics. The writing is just okay and it is a little slow at times. Overall, it was a good detective novel made more intriguing by its location and storyline.
Liz Murray
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A quick and easy read with some explosive (pun intended) action scenes. The plot was relatively far fetched but the violence unfortunately isn't. As with many detective novels it's told in first person so we know the main character gets through but some of the hits come out of the blue. I haven't been to Nairobi and this doesn't exactly paint a safe picture of it but it is somewhere I'd like to go down the line. I'm looking forward to reading his first book and to reading more of his work. ...more
Joyce Yanney
A fictional international (Africa, Mexico, and USA) crime story taking place in 2007. The author writes of racism from a blackmans' and whitemans' view. Politics and violence in Kenya. Terrorism worldwide. And the role the governments and their advisories play in combatting it. Narcotics help them give justification of their actions. A good crime novel. ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
A mysterious death in the Kenyan forest sets detctive Ishmael and his partner O on the hunt for the killer. Its December, 2007, and Kenyan presidential elections are beginning while in the US, Senator Obama is campaigning for president.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I think this book deserves a 5 even though I ponder how a violent political thriller rate such a high score ? Because it's brilliant and funny and wise with characters you want to be friends with. Oh and BTW I used to live in Madison Wisconsin USA!
Harri Junttila
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Smart but easy to read. Nice characters with lots of history. Decently violent for a crime fiction. I also liked the political plot. Reading it in Nairobi gave some extra twist. I know some of the places.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this before the plot got so globe-spanning—had it stayed on a smaller scale it would've been better. ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Entertaining - especially if you have lived in Kenya and know the culture/life in Nairobi.
Thomas Stevenson
I enjoyed this story even if it was too fanciful for my taste
Ya Haddy
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Finished it in a day! It was that good.
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010s, mystery
Crime story in an exotic setting. I like my crime characters more agonized, though.
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mukoma wa Ngugi builds on his first crime novel to give us a unique, interesting international thriller that asks, above all, why? I hope he writes more of these books.
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Very high body count!
Okero Otieno
Another bad read. It imitates western style setting in unfamiliar setting. Very boring
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