Book Review: Nairobi Heat by Mukoma wa Ngugi

Nairobi Heat is a crime fiction about how two detectives who live in two different continents and have never met each other before but later became good friends joined forces to solve the murder of an unidentified young white girl. Ishmael, an African American is the book’s narrator and the lead detective on the murder case. The prime suspect is Joshua, a former headmaster and African hero who saved innocent lives during the Rwanda genocide but now a Professor living in a very rich white neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin. Joshua found the body on his doorstep raising many questions that landed him at the top of suspects’ list, but his air tight alibi made it difficult to convict him of the crime.


With no other leads and too many unanswered questions, Ishmael decided to travel to Kenya to investigate more on the case after he received a strange phone call from an unknown number telling him to come to Nairobi if he wants to find out the truth. Without knowing what to expect, no family or friends in Nairobi and has never been there before or any part of Africa, Ishmael decided to travel to Nairobi. Upon getting there, he partnered with a Kenya detective, O who introduced him to the way of policing and living in Kenya.

Together, the two detectives uncovered corruption, bribery and lies embedded in the crevices of the foundations and charity organizations that were supposed to help the victims of genocide. They also discovered other players involved in the murder of Jane Doe. This discovery was very shocking to me because even though the killing happened in America somehow the order to kill originated from Kenya making me wonder who exactly is Jane Doe? However, Ishmael later discovered Jane Doe’s identity in a rather stroke of luck, which led to her murder making more sense to me as a reader and even to Ishmael. But the question still remains, who exactly killed her? When Ishmael realized staying in Kenya will not help in answering this question he returned back to America where he eventually bust the case wide open.

Nairobi Heat is the first African crime fiction I’ve ever read. I loved it so much I went on the hunt for more African crime fictions. I enjoy Ngugi’s style of writing and hope to read more of his work. I highly recommend this book! Also check out my review of his other book, Mrs. Shaw.

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