The Honey Guide, Richard Crompton

Phoenix
Phoenix

I chose this novel as I so frequently do, from an immediate attraction to the cover design. I have thought for a while now that I wanted to try a modern crime novel and as it is featured as part of the Waterstones Bookclub this month, I decided to give it a go.

I have always had great affection for stories set in Africa; from McCall Smith’s Ladies Detective Agency to Taiye Selasi’s recent dazzling debut ‘Ghana Must Go’. The characters tend to have an innate richness and the extreme variations of landscape (& lifestyle) found on the African continent always prove a fascinating and insightful setting for a variety of novels.

As a first foray into crime, I enjoyed The Honey Guide. It is an engaging story of murder and desperation set against a backdrop of political tension (tension is perhaps an understatement) brought on by the 2007 Kenyan elections. Knowing nothing at all about African politics, it was at times tricky for me to get my head around the numerous names for tribes, officials and politicians and how they all felt about each other but I recommend perseverance if you find yourself in a similar position. I very much enjoyed the twists and turns of ex-Maasai, ex-police-detective Mollel’s investigation into the murder of a young ‘Poko’ (prostitute). Once again the richness of the characters and their different backgrounds; from secluded Maasai settlements to the English education system, was interesting as you can see how these upbringings heavily affect how they interact with each other, in a place where being prejudiced is natural- almost a form of defence.

I will gladly recommend this book to customers but I’m not sure that it has hooked me enough that I would read the already planned series following Detective Mollel.

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