My third African book in Dorte’s 2010 Global Reading Challenge takes me to Kenya. Bait’s opening lines read: “As a boy, George Malawe had gutted thousands of fish for the white men who came to catch game off the cost of Mombasa. But, as he plunged the blade of his favourite teak-handled filleting knife into the soft underbelly and eased it upwards through the stomach wall with a smooth, practised sawing movement, it struck him that he had never before gutted a white man.”
Bait, a crime thriller, is Nick Brownlee’s debut novel. The main characters are Jake Moore a former London cop who is now running a game fishing business in Mombasa and Detective Inspector Daniel Jouma of the Coast Province CID. The plot opens with three seemingly unconnected events. A fishing-boat skipper and his bait-boy have been blown up in the water, a lowlife undesirable criminal has disappeared and a mangled body has been washed up on the beach at Bara Hoyo after a storm. Jouma with no one else in whom to trust seeks the assistance of Moore. But there are deadly implications for everyone concerned that go far beyond the borders of Africa.
The main characters are likeable and the description of daily life in Mombasa is very attractive and interesting. The story is fast paced, quite enjoyable and easy to read. But at the end it was all too predictable. Good guys are good, bad guys are bad and most characters are just stereotypes. But there is a sense of real Africa and of some of its real problems like corruption. Anyhow I would not mind to read the second book in the series. Potential readers should be aware that they may find some coarse language and some unpleasant scenes.
Nick Brownlee is a former Fleet Street journalist who now runs his own freelance news agency. He is a member of the Crime Writer’s Association and the author of several non-fiction books, the latest being a history of the Tour de France. He lives in Cumbria with his wife and daughter. Bait is his debut novel in a series featuring Moore and Jouma. The second one, Burn, was published in June 2009. The third one, Machete, was released last July.
Bait has been reviewed at The Bookbag
Author: Nick Brownlee