Blood and Fire

Blood and Fire

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 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...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312550240
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 11/09/2010
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About 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.

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.

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