10.10.13

BAIT, by Nick Brownlee

A first novel that reads like a very smooth tenth! Brownlee is a long-time journalist, so the usual errors by an emerging writer are absent. Set in chaotic, corrupt Mombasa on Africa's Kenyan coast, the novel opens with a horrific murder and a boat explosion which proves to have killed Dennis Bentley, a friend of ex-flying squad copper Jake Moore.
As Jake struggles to keep his floundering (no pun) charter fishing business afloat (yikes! no pun!), Mombasa Police Inspector Daniel Jouma asks his help in the investigation. Jouma is an unlikely and likable character, the only man in Mombasa who doesn't crave money. The novel turns unexpectedly as hints of even more horrific crimes come to light. The arrival of the murdered man's daughter Martha, a feisty New Yorker, adds another layer of danger for Jake. Nobody is who they seem. Everyone's for sale...or are they? In a country wracked with strife and pointless mayhem, life is less than cheap. This novel has great and sometimes chilling characters whose very dark pasts are not as bad as their unsavory presents; a world of crime, poverty and corruption that could have made the denouement a bit of ho-hum but absolutely doesn't; deftly drawn characters; crisp, believable dialogue...it's a 5+!