Hell’s Gate by Richard Crompton exceeds high expectations

Great review of Hell’s Gate here…


hell-s-gateA second novel is always a daunting prospect for a new author, particularly one who has received rave reviews for his or her debut book. The level of expectation is so extreme that reality can be, all too frequently, a disappointment. Richard Crompton set the bar very high with his first novel, the highly praised The HoneyGuide which introduced Mollel, a Maasai cop based in Nairobi, taken to the edge by personal tragedy and a dysfunctional justice system.

When Crompton’s follow-up novel, Hell’s Gate, opens, Mollel is back but things aren’t looking too good. He is in jail, literally in Hell, a small straggling township on land between Lake Naivasha and the Hell’s Gate National Park. It soon becomes clear that Mollel is working undercover ostensibly investigating corruption within the police force. Everyone is suspicious of him and he has to constantly revise his view of who he…

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Hell’s Gate – out now

9780297867999HELL’S GATE is out now in the UK and Commonwealth (US & Canada next spring).

It’s already getting some great reviews.

Read all about it on the W&N blog here.

Available in Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon or best of all, your local independent bookshop (if you don’t see it, ask!).

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Ian Rankin on Hell’s Gate

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Shots magazine reviews Hell’s Gate

Shots, the respected crime and thriller ezine, has a review of Hell’s Gate, and it’s a cracker.

“If Nordic noir is joined by its African equivalent at the top of the bestseller charts it may well be due to the reading public discovering Richard Crompton to be one of the most gifted crime writers of his generation.”

Wow. What can I say?

Hell’s Gate is out in the UK on May 29th.

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Picks of 2013

The Guardian has joined Publisher’s Weekly in selecting The Honey Guide / Hour Of The Red God as one of their picks of 2013.

Read more here.

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Interview on KTN

In was recently interviewed about my book on KTN by Bonney Tunya. Here is the end result!

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Review in Crime Fiction Lover

The blog Crime Fiction Lover, a must-visit for anyone who devours detective stories, has a review of The Honey Guide here

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Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2013: HOUR OF THE RED GOD


The prestigious US magazine Publishers Weekly has just announced its 101 best books of 2013.
First out of the gate in the mystery/ thriller category is HOUR OF THE RED GOD.

I am honoured. Thanks must go to PW’s Lenny Picker, who was an early champion of the book, and who interviews me here.

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Storymoja Hay Festival: November 2nd

My session at the Storymoja Festival in September, rightly cancelled in the aftermath of the Westgate atrocity, has been rescheduled to Saturday, November 2nd. 

Kinyanjui Kombani and I will be discussing how we both used real-life events to inspire fiction. It promises to be a stimulating discussion, especially given recent events.

I hope everyone in Nairobi who believes that words are stronger than violence, will come.

Full details here.

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Westgate: stop calling it a “tragedy”

In recent weeks, the media in Kenya and beyond have taken to referring to the attack upon Westgate Mall on September 21st, 2013, as “the tragic events at Westgate”. At time of writing, it is believed that 67 innocent people were killed by up to five gunmen, who also died.

As a writer, I believe that words should be used wisely. They should also be used correctly. And it is both unwise and incorrect to refer to Westgate as a “tragedy”. Continue reading

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Review round-up: Christian Science Monitor and Scott Pack

Some recent reviews are in. The Christian Science Monitor calls Hour Of The Red God* “spellbinding and grimly fascinating”:

At times, the Nairobi of “Hour of the Red God” seems like a city that humanity forgot. But Detective Mollel and his creator remind us of what (and who) is at stake in the daily struggles of its citizens.

The A-list book blogger and publishing industry guru Scott Pack (sometimes called “the most influential man in the book trade“) calls The Honey Guide* “highly compelling”:

Some of the writing is outstanding. Once scene, in which Mollel and his partner talk while going up in a lift, their conversation unfolding floor by floor, is as good as anything I have read in crime fiction.

*It’s the same book – the title is different in the US and UK. 

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Explaining the Westgate attack to a 6 year-old

The Westgate Centre was where we took our kids for a treat. For them, it was a place of frozen yogurt, toy shops and riding in shopping trollies–the same trollies used to wheel casualties away from the scene.

The day after the attack, we had some friends bring their seven year-old to play. They had spent more than an hour the previous day cowering in the basement as bullets flew around them. I warned my 6 year-old son to be sensitive: no staring, no questions, and above all, no gunplay. A while later, I eavesdropped. Continue reading

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Westgate attack

My session today at the Storymoja Hay festival is cancelled, as are all events at the festival. It is a very sad conclusion to what had been a very successful event so far. But it was the right decision in the circumstances, both in respect to the victims of the Westgate attack, and for security reasons.

Nairobi is a small city. Many of us are waking up this morning with a sense of dread about what news we might hear from or about our friends and neighbours.

I have spent a lot of time in that mall, with my family, and was there twice in the last week. The photographs are eerie. It’s possible to identify every location. The thought of the fear and distress of those involved is almost too much to bear.

Once again, Kenya is in the news for the wrong reasons. Kenya does not deserve this.

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Storymoja Hay Fesitval

The Kenya National Museum will host the Storymoja Hay Festival from 19th-22nd September.

“It is a four day celebration of Our Stories and Our Contemporary Culture through storytelling, books, live discussion forums, workshops, debates, live performances, competitions and music. The Festival attracts exciting local and international writers, artists and thinkers with a promise of both engaging and stimulating discussions as well as light-hearted entertainment. The Schools Programme and the Storyhippo Children’s Village offers exciting activities and sessions for children ranging from Creative Writing Classes, Dance & Theatre Camps, Publish Your Own Book Session and Fun Science Experiments.”

I will be involved in two sessions at the event. The first is a workshop for aspiring writers, focusing on the short story. Please follow this link to register interest and attend.

The second is a discussion with author Kinyanjui Kombani about the treatment of tribal and post-electoral violence in fiction.

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Kenya and the ICC

They say people get the politicians they deserve. But it’s hard to see what the Kenyans have done to deserve their MPs.

Tonight, the Kenyan parliament has voted to withdraw from the International Criminal Court – on the eve of trial commencing against the Deputy President, William Ruto. Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta remains indicted for involvement in the post-electoral violence of 2007/8.

It strikes me that Kenyan MPs – the second-highest paid parliamentarians in the world – have made a strategic error here. With witnesses dropping out left, right and centre (make of that what you will), there was every chance the cases would collapse anyway. Uhuru / Ruto loyalists pre-empting the verdict like this will be seen by some parties as a virtual admission of guilt. And in a country where criminal impunity by the rich and powerful is seen as the norm, it sends out another clear message: there is one law for the people, another law for the lawmakers.

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Elmore Leonard 1925-2013

Elmore Leonard

Photograph: Vince Bucci/Getty

The works of Elmore Leonard have been a great inspiration to me. His famous 10 Rules for Writers are essential reading. In my first novel, I broke all of them except number 5, but that doesn’t mean I think he was wrong.

I loved the way his books combine tension with humour, and the way they amass a diverse cast of interesting and well-sketched characters. An Elmore Leonard novel is an ensemble piece, which is why they often made great movies (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown). Even when the movie was awful (Be Cool, The Big Bounce), you knew you were watching an Elmore Leonard story and hopefully it sent many viewers back to the book.

It’s no accident that Quentin Tarantino’s best movie, in my opinion, is Jackie Brown. With Rum Punch providing such strong source material, Tarantino’s worst self-indulgent excesses were curbed and he produced a nuanced, thoughtful work, with humour, emotion and tension. (The script for Pulp Fiction, incidentally, bore many Leonard hallmarks.)

My favourite Leonard novels are Killshot (1989, made into a terrible 2009 movie), which features a powerful female protagonist (another Leonard strength), and Split Images (1981) which tackles privilege, race and self-defence in Florida, with uncanny parallels to the Trayvon Martin case. An Elmore Leonard novel always packs a punch.

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The Honey Guide – Waterstones Book of the Week

Honey GuideThe UK’s leading book retailer, Waterstones, is featuring The Honey Guide as its book of the week.

They have an exclusive edition in store with a bonus short story and a Q&A with yours truly. Time to catch up on your summer reading?

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Interview on NPR

Hour Of The Red God is the subject of the latest Crime In The City profile on NPR. I had a lot of fun meeting the Nairobi correspondent, Gregory Warner, and taking him around some of the locations which are central to the novel.

The end result was some pretty compelling radio. You can hear the full interview here.

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Ian Rankin recommends The Honey Guide

Back in March I was delighted that Ian Rankin tweeted about The Honey Guide:

Now he’s picked it as his summer choice for holiday reading, calling it:

“A compulsive whodunit set in Kenya, where tribal politics can get you killed.”

It’s a little hidden away but the full article is here.

This is a huge thrill for me as Ian Rankin was one of my influences when I was trying to create a crime story set in Nairobi. Even before I started thinking about plot, I knew that I wanted the city itself to be a character. No-one has done that better than Rankin, who makes Edinburgh live and breathe in his Rebus series.

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The Honey Guide in Waterstones Book Club

mmpgThe Honey Guide is out today in paperback, in the UK.

Waterstones, the high street retailer, have picked it as one of their 10 Summer Book Club choices.

Waterstones customers get a special edition with an exclusive short story, reader’s group notes, a Q&A with yours truly and suggestions for further reading.

It’s available in store on a 2-for-one deal with some terrific contemporary novels, so what are you waiting for? Get The Honey Guide and one of the other great choices, grab the sunscreen and hit the deck chair!

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