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Nairobi Heat

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  638 ratings  ·  132 reviews
A young and beautiful white woman is murdered in the US, and the prime suspect is former Rwandan school headmaster Joshua - a hero who had risked his life to save the innocent during Rwanda's genocide. Ishmael, an African American detective, must investigate the case by plunging himself into Joshua's past. He travels to Kenya, where Joshua once lived as a refugee, and fi n ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 28th 2009 by Penguin Global
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Average rating 3.24  · 
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 ·  638 ratings  ·  132 reviews


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Cynthia
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Beverly
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Zach
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
Eva
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
'If you want the truth, you must go to its source. The truth is in the past. Come to Nairobi.'

Humid, thick and salty to taste was Nairobi heat for Detective Ishmael who never dreamt of bringing his black ass to Africa till a young blonde woman was found murdered on the doorstep of a black man back in US. Joshua Hakizimana, a lecturer of Testimony and Genocide whose background was from Rwanda and Kenya was his main suspect. However, he was a hero in both countries. A hero who according to many re
...more
Robert Carraher
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Tony
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sami Tunji
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Concise but written with a craving intrigue, this crime thriller fiction investigates the past in Africa and connects it to the present from Africa to America with a salty suspense. Leading the reader through the twists and turns of crime investigation punctuated with bloodshed, smoke and sex, the novelist presents issues relating to justice, race, power, genocide and self-identity.
Although the protagonist (detective) appears too lucky, making the story to appear a bit unrealistic, it is still i
...more
Mal Warwick
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
his is not a book for the faint of heart. In the course of its two hundred pages, the body count mounts again and again. In the end, I counted twenty-seven dead. Now, perhaps that’s to be expected in a novel about the Rwanda genocide, when more than a million perished. But it seems a little over the top nearly two decades after the event. And it all unfolds when an African American detective in Madison, Wisconsin, travels to Nairobi to check out the past of an unlikely murder suspect at home. Th ...more
Amyn
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Didn't enjoy this book at all. ...more
Sheila
Exhausting and the plot was not convincing.
Sakeenah Graham
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am considering taking a missions trip to Kenya next year with my church. This book did not dissuade me (unlike Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State—I was leery about even going to the Dominican Republic after that one). The setting felt new and fresh and increased my desire to check out Kenya.

The story line was intriguing and entertaining. As a lover of mysteries, in books and TV (Dateline/ID channel), I did not find this book predictable or boring.

Charles Dee Mitchell
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
A dead white girl in a cheerleader uniform lies on Joshua Hakizimana’s front porch. Hakizimana is a hero of the Rwandan massacre, responsible for saving hundreds of lives. He is now a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and involved with a large charitable foundation dedicated to victims of genocide.

Ishmael, a local African American police detective, is assigned to the case. That cheerleader outfit turns out to be a school uniform from the Rwandan school Hakizimana was connected
...more
Katherine
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Muphyn
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
It was actually more engaging than 2 stars but the ending disappointed me and there was just a bit too much foul language for my liking, coupled with my general disinterest (dislike even?) in crime novels. But being set in Kenya and the US was refreshing and not something I'd read before. 2.5 stars. ...more
Nina Chachu
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, crime
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. ...more
Marieke
I liked it, i did. but it didn't feel consistent in the quality of writing and sometimes the story seemed a little too complex. but i hope he continues to write crime thrillers because i have this feeling he will become better and better at it.
but really, does my cynicism need encouragement? ha.
...more
Lisa Poggiali
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Fred
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Starts on a doorstep in Madison. Written by a UW graduate.
Renee
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-mystery
Oh Mukoma Wa Ngugi, please write more!
Kenneth
May 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Nothing in this book is remotely believable or plausible. Plot, characters, motivations and consequences are all equally ludicrous.
Miriam
This book is a classic first-person detective story, with a lot of noir elements. It is quite brutal, also there are a lot of illegal actions by the protagonist (an African American police detective). These actions do not have any repercussions legally nor are they seriously questioned in their necessity or justifiability. I don't agree with this kind of fight against crime.
That said, if you leave those (real life) considerations where they belong (in real life), this is a good detective novel.
...more
Laura
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and its fast-pace relentless action as well as its humorous comments by the main detective, a black American, who finds himself cast for the first time on the shores of Africa. As well as the historic references to the recent Rwandan genocide, interwoven in the character's histories, it exemplifies the globalisation of our everyday narrative, reflected in the crossborder crime scene. I d like to read more of this kind set on the African continent, but with a link bac ...more
Mwende
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I was upset when I reached page two and his description of nairobi was off . Nairobi is not humid , hot in the months of January and feb but certainly not humid, especially as the writer is Kenyan I thought he should know better. Subsequent pages continued to upset me like his reference to I’m going to Africa as though it’s one country. Then the addition of KKK surprised me. Other than that the storyline was quite interesting. To be honest I couldn’t put it down so I just had to finish it in a d ...more
Peter
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Set mainly in Kenya this isn't a bad crime novel but with quite a few flaws as it lacks a realistic plot, particularly in some of the U.S.-based vigilantism, and there are significant implausibilities in the actions of so many of the characters. A white woman is murdered in Wisconsin and a black detective is sent to trace a nebulous connection in Nairobi, eventually found to be linked to the Rwandan genocide. Some really interesting details of African life compensate for a fairly unbelievable st ...more
I Read, Therefore I Blog
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mukoma Wa Ngugi’s hard boiled crime thriller relies heavily on contrivance to keep the plot moving but is very strong both on the difficult subject of the Rwandan genocide and the complicated relationship between corporations and the charitable interests resulting from it and on what it means to be black in America and Africa, the Kenya setting is vividly depicted and I found Ishmael to be interesting enough to want to read the sequel.
Kamran Sehgal
A decent novel but altogether not that memorable and too reliant on clichés of the 'outsider' cop travelling to the ghetto but this time it is is Nairobi! The romantic subplot was strained and felt unnecessary. But it was fun to see cop drama being played in a Kenyan setting. ...more
Katie
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own
This was a pretty trashy book that I definitely enjoyed reading, though I doubt I'll ever revisit it. Still, it was a nifty story set in a cool location. The kind of book I recommend if you like the occasional detective story and find it for cheap. ...more
Nyorotha Wang'Ombe
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Had I read the reviews, I wouldn't have read the book. As I've always said, I love a good story. That's what NAIROBI HEAT is. A fun to read book that keeps the reader on their toes. With a lot of twists and turns that are sometimes unnecessary, but generally a great fictional read. ...more
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Great African Reads: Ngũgĩ: Nairobi Heat | (CL) first read: Dec 2011 40 79 Feb 23, 2018 09:01AM  

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