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Hell's Gate
Cover of Hell's Gate
Hell's Gate
Detective Mollel Series, Book 2

It must have been Otieno's idea of a joke. Too many offended egos back at headquarters, too many influential people unhappy with him in Nairobi. And yet, with his record, he was almost impossible to dismiss. So Otieno had sent Mollel straight to Hell.

When we first met Detective Mollel in Hour of the Red God, he was heralded as "a wonderfully complex and tragic protagonist" (Booklist), and Richard Crompton's novel called "spellbinding" (The Christian Science Monitor) and "a fantastic read" (The Plain Dealer [Cleveland]). Now Mollel returns in Hell's Gate, only this time the Maasai warrior-turned-detective has been banished from Nairobi, Kenya's bustling metropolis, to a small, fly-blown town on the edge of a national park. His career, he thinks, has taken a nosedive. His colleagues on the police force are a close-knit group and they have not taken kindly to a stranger in their midst. Mollel suspects they are guilty of the extortion and bribery that plague the force. But when the body of a flower worker turns up in the local lake, he begins to wonder if they might be involved in something even more disturbing.

For all is not as it seems in Hell's Gate. Amid rumors of a local death squad, disappearances, and blackmail, Mollel is forced not only to confront his Maasai heritage but also to ask himself where justice truly lies. In upholding the law, is he doing what is right? Crompton captures contemporary Kenya in all its complexity, and Hell's Gate is a captivating novel that you won't be able to put down.

It must have been Otieno's idea of a joke. Too many offended egos back at headquarters, too many influential people unhappy with him in Nairobi. And yet, with his record, he was almost impossible to dismiss. So Otieno had sent Mollel straight to Hell.

When we first met Detective Mollel in Hour of the Red God, he was heralded as "a wonderfully complex and tragic protagonist" (Booklist), and Richard Crompton's novel called "spellbinding" (The Christian Science Monitor) and "a fantastic read" (The Plain Dealer [Cleveland]). Now Mollel returns in Hell's Gate, only this time the Maasai warrior-turned-detective has been banished from Nairobi, Kenya's bustling metropolis, to a small, fly-blown town on the edge of a national park. His career, he thinks, has taken a nosedive. His colleagues on the police force are a close-knit group and they have not taken kindly to a stranger in their midst. Mollel suspects they are guilty of the extortion and bribery that plague the force. But when the body of a flower worker turns up in the local lake, he begins to wonder if they might be involved in something even more disturbing.

For all is not as it seems in Hell's Gate. Amid rumors of a local death squad, disappearances, and blackmail, Mollel is forced not only to confront his Maasai heritage but also to ask himself where justice truly lies. In upholding the law, is he doing what is right? Crompton captures contemporary Kenya in all its complexity, and Hell's Gate is a captivating novel that you won't be able to put down.

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About the Author-
  • Richard Crompton is a former BBC journalist and producer. He moved to East Africa several years ago with his wife, a human rights lawyer who worked on the Rwanda genocide trials. Crompton won the Daily Telegraph Short Story Award in 2010, and his first novel, Hour of the Red God, was published to great popular acclaim in 2013. He lives in Nairobi.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 20, 2015
    The jaw-dropping opening of Crompton’s outstanding second Detective Mollel novel (after 2013’s Hour of the Red God) finds the honest Nairobi cop, a Maasai, in prison, surrounded by hostile inmates. When the criminal who runs the prison, Mdosi, summons Mollel to his private room and asks why his men on the outside keep disappearing, their meeting ends in violence. A guard hears a disturbance and catches the detective red-handed, holding a bloody shard of glass and standing over Mdosi’s body. A flashback presents the events of the previous week. In doing his job too well by solving a prostitute’s murder, Mollel has outraged “some of the most powerful people in the city.” His boss demotes and transfers him, literally, to Hell, a small town near Kenya’s Hell’s Gate national park. Greeted with suspicion by the corrupt local police force, Mollel ends up on a twisted path that leads to his incarceration. Crompton effectively integrates Maasai culture into the absorbing plot. Agency: William Morris Endeavor (U.K.).

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2015
    A righteous detective is shuttled to a remote post where he's challenged by culture shock, organized crime, and an unsolved murder. Detective Mollel is in a prison in Kenya under murky circumstances. A moment after a privileged prisoner named Mdosi teases him, asking about several men who've gone missing, Mollel finds himself standing over the man's bloody corpse, shards of glass in his hands. Flash back a week to Mollel in the ominously named Hell's Gate, where he's been exiled after making too many waves in Nairobi. His new co-worker Shadrack Kitui sternly advises against ruffling feathers locally. As a Maasai, Mollel already has a head start on tribal interactions, and he sets about familiarizing himself with the citizenry. His thoughts wander repeatedly back to his beloved brother Lendeva, now estranged from the family. The various members of the underclass he encounters are short stories in themselves: the young street vandal with the spray can, the flower seller who can't make a living, the Wildlife Service ranger Kibet, who's trying to stop elephant killings. The murder of the flower seller, whose name, Mollel learns, was Jemimah, gives him a sharper sense of purpose and the novel a sharper focus. The anguish of his investigation makes Mollel consider leaving this "civilized" world and returning to his tribe. Mollel's second appearance is moody and slow-rolling, as layered and involving as his first (Hour of the Red God, 2013), immersing the reader in a fascinating and unfamiliar world, with a mystery heightening the tension.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2015

    Sergeant Mollel, a Maasai warrior-turned- police officer with a strong sense of justice, has ruffled one too many feathers at Kenya's police national headquarters in Nairobi. His preference for doing what is right over following the rules has resulted in his exile to a small town on the edge of Hell's Gate National Park. Ostensibly this is a punishment, but he is also tasked with investigating a rash of disappearances and potential corruption in the local police force. In a Kenya torn apart by postelection violence and tribal warfare, Mollel must navigate the complicated social structure of a rapidly changing country and earn the trust of the insular local police force, all the while dealing with his own painful past. VERDICT In this second Mollel novel (after Hour of the Red God), Crompton writes about Kenya's social problems--including wildlife poaching, violence against women, and corruption--in a way both searing and compassionate. Mollel's love for and commitment to his country, despite its many problems, is evident throughout. A classic lone-wolf detective story with enough plot twists to keep readers guessing until the end, this novel will appeal to those looking for both a psychological and an action thriller.--Sarah Cohn, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Telegraph

    "[Crompton] has done something near-miraculous and made the figure of the incorruptible loner-detective fresh again."

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Hell's Gate
Detective Mollel Series, Book 2
Richard Crompton
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