HELL'S GATE by Richard Crompton


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A righteous detective is shuttled to a remote post where he's challenged by culture shock, organized crime, and an unsolved murder.

Detective Mollel is in a prison in Kenya under murky circumstances. A moment after a privileged prisoner named Mdosi teases him, asking about several men who've gone missing, Mollel finds himself standing over the man's bloody corpse, shards of glass in his hands. Flash back a week to Mollel in the ominously named Hell's Gate, where he's been exiled after making too many waves in Nairobi. His new co-worker Shadrack Kitui sternly advises against ruffling feathers locally. As a Maasai, Mollel already has a head start on tribal interactions, and he sets about familiarizing himself with the citizenry. His thoughts wander repeatedly back to his beloved brother Lendeva, now estranged from the family. The various members of the underclass he encounters are short stories in themselves: the young street vandal with the spray can, the flower seller who can't make a living, the Wildlife Service ranger Kibet, who's trying to stop elephant killings. The murder of the flower seller, whose name, Mollel learns, was Jemimah, gives him a sharper sense of purpose and the novel a sharper focus. The anguish of his investigation makes Mollel consider leaving this "civilized" world and returning to his tribe.

Mollel's second appearance is moody and slow-rolling, as layered and involving as his first (Hour of the Red God, 2013), immersing the reader in a fascinating and unfamiliar world, with a mystery heightening the tension.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-374-28058-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2015


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