Blood and Fire

Blood and Fire

4.5 2
by Nick Brownlee

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"A literate and thought-provoking story that runs a bit deeper than the standard crime thriller. Brownlee peels back the layers of modern-day Kenya with a skilled hand."

Deseret News (Salt Lake City)

Just when Inspector Daniel Jouma thought it was calm in Mombasa, all hell breaks loose. Bodies pile up in the morgue, his new boss wants answers...and


"A literate and thought-provoking story that runs a bit deeper than the standard crime thriller. Brownlee peels back the layers of modern-day Kenya with a skilled hand."

Deseret News (Salt Lake City)

Just when Inspector Daniel Jouma thought it was calm in Mombasa, all hell breaks loose. Bodies pile up in the morgue, his new boss wants answers...and the new mayor wants him out.

Meanwhile, the bulldozers are bearing down on Flamingo Creek, and fishing boat skipper Jake Moore is just one man against the corporate might of Kenya's most ruthless developer.

But soon a hideous secret, thought to be buried in the ashes of a deadly inferno, will bring the maverick crime-busting duo together once again. And Jake and Jouma are about to discover that when you play with fire, someone always gets burned...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
British author Brownlee's hard-hitting sequel to his first novel, Bait (2009), follows the activities of a clever assassin sent to Mombasa, Kenya, by the human-trafficking ring whose operations have been damaged by the activities of British ex-cop Jake Moore and Det. Insp. Daniel Jouma. An elderly nun's disappearance and an ex-pat thug's mysterious death preoccupy Jouma. The incompetence and corruption of the people the inspector must work with complicate his investigation. Meanwhile, an unscrupulous construction corporation's efforts to drive away the inhabitants of a nearby village disrupt Jake's job as a fishing boat captain. The story jerks along in James Patterson style through short, brutal chapters, but it does hold interest because of the heroes' determined goodness versus the pure evil of their antagonists. The colorful and dangerous setting also comes through with unusual vividness. (Nov.)
Library Journal
When fishing boat skipper Jake Moore's business partner is murdered in the United States, FBI agents arrive in Mombasa, Kenya, to interview Jake. Meanwhile Inspector Daniel Jouma investigates a rash of brutal murders as his newly appointed partner takes over a missing persons case. In this second series outing (after Bait), Brownlee's multiple-viewpoint narrative keeps readers and detectives guessing to the heart-pounding end. For readers, knowing the story's details before the police dig them out just adds to the mystery. Brownlee, a former British journalist, knows Kenya and its culture. VERDICT Readers who enjoy Deon Meyer, Roger Smith, Michael Stanley, and other authors of fast-paced, hard-edged crime fiction set in Africa will want to discover Brownlee.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

When she opened the door to her apartment there was a month’s mail on the mat, forty-one messages on her answering service, and her killer was in the kitchen, a stiletto knife held lightly in the gloved fingers of one hand.

She ignored the mail and pressed the play button on the machine in the hallway. By the time she had emptied her suitcase on the bed, stripped out of her travelling clothes, showered and changed into jogging pants and a T-shirt, there was only one message left to hear.

A man’s voice said, ‘This is FBI Special Agent Clarence Bryson. Please give me a call when you get this.’

Agent Bryson gave his number. Then there was a beep and a robot voice said, ‘There are no more messages.’

Yeah, yeah, she thought as she towel-dried her hair and dragged it back into a ponytail in front of the bedroom mirror. For now.

She went back into the hallway and, two-handed, scooped up as much mail as she could. Bills and junk. Nobody ever sent anything interesting through the post any more. Nobody ever sent letters. She sorted it into two piles on the hall table, one on each side of the telephone. The junk towered above the bills, which was the only good thing to report.

The phone rang. She stared at it just long enough for the answering service to kick in.

‘This is FBI Special Agent Clarence Bryson again. Please call me urgently when you get this message.’

As he gave the number her hand hovered momentarily over the receiver.

But she knew what Agent Bryson wanted to talk about. And right now she just wasn’t ready. Things had happened too fast. She needed to get her head together.

She grabbed the bills, went through to the living room and tossed them on the coffee table. Then she pulled the blinds covering the windows. Weak sunlight filtered through three large panes of grimy glass. The panes needed scouring. But then after what had happened so did the whole apartment. She could still smell his expensive cologne clinging to the furniture. She could see the indentations in the sofa cushions where he used to sit. She knew she would find his suits hanging in the bedroom wardrobe and his toothbrush in the mug on top of the bathroom medicine cabinet. Everything needed to be tossed into a big pile in the middle of the room and set alight.

In the kitchen, her killer watched through a crack in the connecting hatch door.

The door buzzer sounded.

She grimaced. Special Agent Clarence Bryson, by any chance?

She retraced her steps down the hallway and opened the door. Something fast and sinuous shot past her ankles into the living room and she let out an exclamation of surprise and delight.

A fat woman in a kaftan was standing in the corridor outside.

‘We thought we heard you,’ she said. ‘He’s been sooo excited.’

‘Mrs Liebnitz–what can I say?’

The fat woman shook her head solemnly and backed away towards the apartment door behind her. ‘Don’t say a word, dear. I’ll leave you two to get reacquainted.’

Having shut the door, she returned to the living room.


There was a noise from the kitchen and she smiled, not knowing that it was the sound of her cat’s neck being snapped with a single twist.


She entered the kitchen. She saw the cat lying on the breakfast bar with its eyes open and blood on its teeth. She drew breath to scream but a gloved hand closed around her mouth. The killer pressed the tip of the stiletto against the base of her skull and, with one smooth upward movement, pushed the blade in as far as the hilt.

Ten minutes later there was a hammering at the door. Seconds after that the door smashed open on its hinges and a dozen armed men in protective vests and helmets streamed into the hallway. By the time FBI Special Agent Clarence Bryson entered the apartment it had been cleared and locked down, and one of the armed men was standing guard over the dead woman and her cat lying in the kitchen.

BLOOD AND FIRE Copyright © 2009 by Nick Brownlee.

Meet the Author

NICK BROWNLEE is a former Fleet Street journalist who now runs his own freelance news agency. He lives in Cumbria with his wife and daughter.

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Blood and Fire 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Mombassa former British police detective turned Kenyan fishing boat skipper Jake Moore's business partner Martha Brantley has returned to New York where she is murdered. FBI Agent Clarence Bryson, who tried to warn her, believes her assassination has to do with Moore's assistance to Kenyan Detective Inspector Daniel Jouma, which devastated a human-trafficking ring (see Bait). Bryson and Agent McCrickerd travel to Mombassa because they believe the deadly gang is cleaning up by killing those who impeded their lucrative business with Moore at the top of the hit list. The American Feds trace the series of murders to a professional team of assassins tied to the traffickers. Jouma struggles with government corruption, cronyism, bribes and incompetence while investigating a missing nun case and a local homicide as the new mayor wants him fired. Finally Jake tries to get back to his fishing boat business, but the suits are planning progress that will destroy his locale Flamingo Bay. Although too much is going on too quickly, readers will appreciate this powerful Kenyan crime thriller as the bad guys are clearly defined early when a killer takes a knife to Martha's cat. Ironically the readers know much earlier than the cops and former cop who the psychopaths are, but that will not matter to the audience, as the action never stops. With a strong sense of locale, armchair warriors will enjoy the latest African adventure and want Moore from Nick Brownlee. Harriet Klausner