Wednesday, April 8, 2009

SUNDAY SALON: Review BAIT - Nick Brownlee

Publisher: Piatkus, 2009
ISBN: 9780749940591

As a boy, George Malewe had gutted thousands of fish for the white men who came to catch game off the coast of Mombasa. But, as he plunged the blade of his favourite teak-handled filleting knife into the soft underbelly and eased it upwards through the stomach wall with a smooth, practised sawing movement, it struck him that he had never before gutted a white man.

With an opening paragraph like that you know you’re not going to be in for a quiet comfort read.

Jake Moore is an ex-Flying squad police officer. After being badly wounded in London he gave it all up and used his compensation money to buy into a tourist fishing partnership in Mombasa, Kenya. Things aren’t going to well though. The recent political unrest and violence in Kenya has impacted on the tourist trade, especially at the lower end of the market.

The boat of another fishing boat captain blows up at sea resulting in the loss of lives of both the captain and its bait boy; the brother of Jake’s own bait boy. The body of a violent, petty street criminal is then found washed up on shore. Something nasty is obviously going on, but that’s not unusual in a country with as much corruption as Kenya. Jake figures it’s none of his business. That changes when he is approached by Detective Jouma who is probably one of the few genuinely honest police officers in Mombasa. Jake’s old copper instincts can’t resist the challenge and he finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that is far darker and spreads so much further than Jake ever anticipated.

BAIT is the first novel by Nick Brownlee and it’s a ripper of a debut novel. Take one honest detective with a dash of street gangster, vigorously beat in a plenty of psychotic South African ex-army officer with a penchant for inflicting slow, violent death and add the beautiful daughter of a murder victim and you have a recipe for a grab-you-by-the-scruff-of-the-neck thrill ride that will leave you wanting more.

Nick Brownlee is a former journalist who now runs a small news and feature agency in Cumbria, England. On the success of Bait, Nick has been commissioned to write three more Jake and Jouma novels and I’ll be eagerly awaiting each one.

Nick Brownlee’s official website is

1 comment:

Dorte H said...

This is indeed a promising opening.
It sounds a bit like a paragraph from Fried Green Tomatoes, actually, about someone who ´done killed his first white man´.
So it transpires that that must be a great pleasure.

NB: I really like your pretty and dainty feet.