Select one of the keywords
Bait    by Nick Brownlee order for
by Nick Brownlee
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Once a highly-regarded London policeman, Jake Moore is an ex-patriot living in Mombasa, Kenya. His major concern at present is keeping afloat the game-fishing company he co-owns with Harry Philliskirk, another ex-pat. Their business is on the verge of going under, fighting for its life against far grander outfits with more capital. Like many other Kenyans, they are dismayed by the recent violent upheavals in this beautiful country.

Detective Inspector Daniel Jouma, Coast Province CID, has always felt an almost divine calling in protecting fragile civilization from unchecked savagery. After over thirty years of honest policing, he sometimes feels overwhelmed by the corruption that surrounds him, for Daniel Jouma is both honest and idealistic.

Their paths cross when a much-ravaged body is washed up during a storm. It is in Jouma's jurisdiction, and is followed by a series of other violent events, as well as too many additional deaths. Jouma, intelligent and analytical, begins to piece together a larger, ugly picture. Jake is drawn in through his acquaintance with Dennis Bentley, another game-fish captain. Bentley has gone missing, along with his only crew, a young bait boy who is the brother of Jake's bait boy. Severely understaffed, and unsure of whom to trust amongst his colleagues, Jouma ends up asking for Jake's assistance. When Martha, Bentley's competent and tough-minded daughter, arrives in Mombasa, the two acquire another ally.

Bait is a first novel, written with a sure and confident hand. Brownlee has a gift for vivid characterization. His tale is peopled with a myriad of colourful characters, so deftly presented that the reader has no difficulty in keeping them straight. The motive that is the source of the many crimes is an affront to human decency, its perpetrators a blight to humanity. Brownlee's good guys are admirable, fighting to retain their ethics despite the moral chaos around them. The author also shows us the exotic city of Mombasa, particularly the parts that tourists will likely not see.

Brownlee moves easily between locales around the world, juggling his many characters and plot complexities so smoothly that the reader never stumbles. This gripping tale is impossible to put down. One hopes that the author will gift us with another adventure featuring the unlikely duo of Jake Moore and Inspector Jouma, particularly as he has left what appears to me to be an unfinished hook.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews