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HOUR OF THE RED GOD by Richard Crompton


by Richard Crompton

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-17199-5
Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Female circumcision, baby selling, tribal conflicts and ballot-box stuffing unsettle life in Nairobi.

When a Maasai prostitute is found butchered in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, Sgt. Mollel, a Maasai temporarily stationed at Nairobi Central CID, hops on his bike to survey the damage. Assisted by Kiunga, a Kikuyu, he traces the descent of the poor girl’s body through storage drains that seem to begin on the grounds of Orpheus House, a shelter for the wayward where Wanjiku Nalo, the wife of charismatic preacher George Nalo, founder of his own mightily successful ministries, provides solace, late-term abortions and is possibly involved in a baby-stealing ring. She admits that Lucy, the dead girl, stayed at Orpheus House but denies knowing how she wound up dead. Lucy’s pal Honey, whose stillborn baby was delivered by Wanjiku, insists that Lucy had a baby, the genital butchery was meant to cover up the birth, and her newborn was stolen from her at the behest of a politically influential client. Tracking the client leads Mollel and Kiunga to David Kingori, whose Equator Investments has ties to Nalo’s ministry and a strong rooting interest in the Kenyan presidential race, which has become a battle royal between racist tribal leaders, governmental storm troopers and the mungiki, marauding gangs. In the process of uncovering who killed Lucy, Mollel also learns how election votes are switched, while desperately trying to outrun the street riots turning Nairobi into a war zone. 

Former BBC journalist Crompton’s debut features a unique voice, an in-depth look at diverse Kenyan rites and political chicanery, and a hero who, one hopes, is just at the beginning of his fictional career.