Book Review: Blood and Fire by Nick Brownlee

Blood and Fire
Nick Brownlee
Thos. Dunne Books, 2010
ISBN #978-0-3125-5024-0

In Blood and Fire, the sequel to Bait, the wonderful debut novel by Nick Brownlee, the author once more brings together the unlikely team of Jake Moore, six-foot tall, 36-year-old ex-Scotland Yard cop now a game boat skipper on Kenya’s East Coast, and Daniel Jouma, the 51-year-old Mombasa Detective Inspector Daniel Jouma of the Coast Province CID who has become his friend.   There are several things that engage their attention, and their concern.  To begin with, it seems that Spurling Developments, Kenya’s largest civil-engineering company is planning to build a five-star hotel on the grounds that now house the village that is Jake’s stomping ground, with bulldozers leveling everything, if not everyone, in its path.  Evie Simenon, a white Kenyan in her late twenties, heads a group of a couple of dozen eco-warriors, who tells Harry, Jake’s partner: “We can’t just sit back and let rich white developers turn Kenya into one big hotel complex.” But then things start to get much more complicated. When Jake becomes involved, Harry tells him:  “Spurling will win.  They always win. There is absolutely nothing you or Evie Simenon can do about it.  It’s the way the world works.”

**[Possible spoiler for those who haven’t yet read the first book in the series [a condition which should be corrected as soon as possible!:

In addition, the reader is horrified when, at page one, a hit man finds and dispatches his latest target, the woman with whom Jake became involved at the end of Bait.  It seems that the events which were described in that book have not been fully resolved.

**end spoiler]

Next, a former police sergeant is found dead, having plunged to his death from the walls of Fort Jesus, a building which was closed tight with its sturdy main gate bolted shut. Jouma is assigned to head up the ensuing investigation by his new boss, Superintendent Elizabeth Simba [who has replaced the man who was among those disgraced and punished in a sweeping corruption scandal that earned Jouma the appellation “The Man Who Cleaned Up Mombasa].”  And then a seventy-five-year-old nun disappears.

The book is a wonderful successor to the equally fine first book, and the even better news is that the third, Machete, is due out in the UK later this year and, hopefully, at some point in time in the US.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2011.

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