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The Honey Guide is a crime novel by Richard Crompton. Crompton is a British journalist who lives in Kenya and this is the first in a series featuring his detective Mollel. Mollel is a former Maasai warrior who now works for the Nairobi police force.
I enjoy novels set in other countries, and why should we not get some good crime stories from Africa? This is no 'No.1 Ladies Detective Agency', it is much grittier, and whilst crimes are solved through deduction and legwork, that is pretty much where the similarities end. The novel is set during election time and Mollel is not popular with his bosses and has been moved into the traffic division; however as a national hero following the bombing of the American embassy a few years before, they cannot be seen to let him go.
A few days before the election the body of a prostitute is washed up in a storm drain. She is also a Maasai, so Mollel is called on to lead the investigation. With everything else going on, no one really cares about an unnamed Maasai hooker. Mollel and his colleague Kiunga set about finding out who she is, and what happened to her and track down a friend called Honey. It seems that Honey and Lucy (the dead girl) have had some influential clients and may know something about some of the key figures in the election campaign and Nairobi society, that these people are keen to keep quiet.
I initially liked the character of Mollel, he is tenacious and hard-working but a poor father to a young boy he struggles to relate to. I think there is more to Mollel’s back story than we are given. The character development seemed a bit of an inconvenience to the story and was inconsistent, and I found myself quite frustrated with the lack of revelations in that aspect. We know little about the supporting characters other than what they tell us.
Plot wise I thought the story quite interesting with a lot of potential, but there seemed to be a lot of strands and a lot of lies, so it started to get a bit complicated. I think Crompton tried to be a bit too clever, as there where many red herrings for you to keep on top of, which ultimately got confusing for the reader. However, I liked how he described the city and was able to build up a picture of it in my mind, although I suspect it was not entirely accurate. The parts about the election and its aftermath, were very interesting and brought the story more to life.
Overall I enjoyed the book, but not so much at the end as at the beginning, which is why I am awarding the book just three stars. If you like your crime fiction set in different locations then by all means give this a try, as I suspect the best is yet to come from Mollel.