Posts Tagged ‘crime fiction’

Something new- an excerpt

April 23, 2015

This is from a novella I am currently working on. I last shared it with prose-lovers at the Sunday Salon in Kengeles-Lavington Green, Nairobi. Your feedback is most welcome.

Media house offices are always quiet and clean in the early morning. Only three of my fellow reporters had arrived; James Wairi, a tall, dark brown business reporter whose nick-name was Mrefu. Nelly, who was the Personal Assistant to my boss’ Janet. She was always here before everyone else. I recall the first time I ever spoke to her. I got to the office earlier than usual, finding her deep in prayer. I mean loud prayer. I think she had her imaginary assembly of church goers right there with her that morning.

Then there was Mikey. He was the in-house cartoonist. This guy looked so raggedy you would be forgiven for thinking he was a homeless guy brought in to tell his story. Maybe he was homeless. Or maybe his wife always kicked him out of the house before daylight. Maybe he never went home at night. He always looked haggard and hangover. No one really knew. Still, he did some amazing cartoons.

Mikey looked up from his Sketch Book. “Morning?” he waved.

“Morning Mikey!” How could he look like that on a whole Monday morning?

“Laid this weekend?” He winked.

Nelly and James looked at me questioningly.

“Laid out by the poolside,” I retorted, walking towards my desk.

James said something that sounded like ‘lucky ass!’-I didn’t really hear.

I was early today. Not because I wanted to. No! I was early because I had set my mind into discovering what I sensed would be my next big challenge. I went into the Daily Vibe archives to go through past newspaper editions with ‘juicy’ crime headlines.

The most recent I held read: ’30 women held naked in house of shame’. The one below that one read; ‘Keep off! Janet Atwal answers back estranged Nigerian husband who accused her last week of seizing Kshs. 200M worth of family property: It’s all my money, she says.’

A lot of catchy headlines were available for me to check out. I spent the next one hour in the archives, deeply engrossed in all that drama. The words taking me to places I thought only existed in the movies.

I looked at my watch, it was ten past nine. I needed to head back to my desk, and then see my boss Janet about my stories for the day.

She was on the phone when I walked into her office. She motioned me in. Janet was in a good mood today. First, unlike most Mondays’, she wasn’t wearing a red or pink shirt. Whenever she wore a red or pink shirt, we’d always know there was going to be trouble. Presently, she was wearing a dark blue trouser suit, light blue shirt and a stripped tie.

“Morning? Did you think about what I told you?” She posed, even before I had responded to her good morning greeting.

“Yes! I’ve been going through past editions and I …” She cut me off. She rose from her seat and walked over to the grey metal cabinet she always locked. Janet opened one of the shelves, searched through them and produced a small green file marked ‘MONKEYS‘.

She asked me to go through the documents in ten minutes then come back and see her.

“Listen, about Friday….”

“Tell me about Friday when you go through those articles.” She took her seat behind her desk.

I practically ran back to my desk. The first part of the file had articles about national crimes. The second part, separated by a luminous manila paper, held articles with her by-lines. Fifteen minutes later, I was back at her office.

“What do the articles have in common?” She asked. She did not even look up to face me.

“The inverted pyramid.” I tried. All news stories had this.

“What about the crimes?”

“Organized?,” I responded. Half question half answer.

“That’s the kind of stuff I want you to follow. Do you think you have the guts to follow the leads to the very end?” Janet was now looking at me straight in the eye.

I wanted to try something new and challenging, I just wasn’t sure this was it.

“Yes! I can”. Mama always said that I should never say the ‘I can’t’ words.

“Now tell me about Friday…” Her tone changed, more casual now.

ZANZIBAR; The tears and the laughter-PART I

February 21, 2012

Anyplace with sun and sand always does it for me. So when the opportunity came for me to assist and accompany a friend of mine to Zanzibar, I was ecstatic!

DAY 1 Monday 6th February: The journey begins

My birthday too. I also had a job interview before the journey. I hadn’t booked in advance, just in case the interview lasted longer than I’d anticipated. I arrived about thirty minutes after 1 O’Clock by which time my favourite buses had already departed. The only bus that was available was Mombasa Raha, which I’d never used before. Not what I’m used to (in terms of comfort) but it got me to Mombasa in time-around 8.30 p.m. To suit the journey, my cousin lent me Elmore Leonards’ ‘Gold Coast’. Elmore is one of my favourite crime fiction writers!

DAY 2 Tuesday: Road to Dar es Salaam

Had to wake up at 5.30 a.m to catch the 6.30 a.m bus to Dar. The only bus we found was Smart Bus (Ksh. 1,400). At the ferry crossing over to the South Coast, we were all asked to get off the bus. I remember listening to this very funny pastor on the ferry when I was called back into the bus. At the door, there was an argument among the conductors about opening the door or not. When they finally did, I was starting to get in when all of a sudden, someone closed the door. My finger was caught in between and mercilessly smashed. I immediately started bleeding. The people who saw what happened started protesting …and that’s when the door was opened again to let me in.

Smart Bus did not have a complete first aid kit and I had to wait over 10 hours to get proper treatment in Dar.

Zuku advert in Swahili

Zuku advert in Swahili

The bus kept making numerous stops along the way and instead of taking  between 8-10 hours, we took 15 hours to get to Dar. I had been informed that my Safaricom number would work here, but wapi! After my lil’ accident, my friend had decided to leave Zanzibar (instead of waiting for me there) and come wait for me in Dar, but alas! I couldn’t even make calls.

At the hospital:  Thank God AAR had offices in Dar.  So I got a cab and headed there, only to find their offices closed. The guard informed us that the nearest hospital was Shree Hindu Mandal Hospital.This is where I was dropped off.

Once  I informed the receptionist that I was from Kenya, she said that I couldn’t access the services here,  adding that I had to wait and go to AAR offices the next morning. What?!!! Not knowing  what else to do, I sat at the hospital lobby-stranded. One of her colleagues  came and sat next to me, to talk to me. He called a friend of his to help sort out my network issue. So simple:- Settings>Phone>Operator selection>Manual. Most phones connect automatically though. I finally called the AAR Dar number at the back of the card using my phone…..and that’s all it took for me to get treatment. The doctor and nurse who sorted me out were amazing.

Frangipani Guest Suites: I also called my friend, who came and waited until I was treated. I had my ‘chips mayai’ before  heading out to Frangipani Guest Suites in Jangwani Beach where we spent the night.

Table center piece at Frangipani in Dar

Table center piece at Frangipani in Dar

The place is ran by Salgha Kombe, a professional interior designer who has done an amazing job with the place.

IN PART II, FIND OUT HOW THE REST OF THE JOURNEY  TO ZANZIBAR WENT, SAUTI YA BUSARA FESTIVAL & HOW I GOT  BACK HOME…

 

ZANZIBAR: THE TEARS & LAUGHTER-PART II

February 21, 2012

DAY 3 WEDNESDAY: TO  ZANZIBAR  ON  SPEED BOAT

We managed to catch the 12 O’clock speed boat to Zanzibar (from Dar), a journey that would take about one and a half hours. Being foreigners, we were charged Ksh. 3,500 each. Owing to the tidal waves, the ride was very bumpy at the beginning bwith kids screaming and adults laughing.

We went straight to 1001 Nights, a lil’ hotel on Malindi Road in Stone Town where we’d be staying. After freshening up, we were ready to take on Stone Town. Sauti ya Busara (meaning Sounds of Wisdom, one of the most popular music festivals on the island was kicking off the next day. There was a networking forum at Monsoon Restaurant that afternoon though. Here, everyone had to take off their shoes to get in. I liked the place, the cushions on the floor, dim lights and strong dark spice tea. After the forum, we walked along the seafront looking for a place to eat. All around Stone Town, banners, posters and programs of the Sauti ya Busara Festival abound. We settled on Mercury’s where we feasted on their sea-food pizza and the breathtaking view.

the Zanzibar beach

the Zanzibar beach

Later, back at the sea-front, we discovered that the place was coming alive right before sunset. Local vendors start setting up and selling fresh barbeque seafood at Forodhani Gardens’ Night Market as it is known.

the sea food yum!

Forodhani Gardens

With Naan to accompany the octopus, prawns, shark meat etc. we tried almost all of the sea food (in skewers dipped in chilli). We got into a lil’ trouble with the cops in Zanzibar (beware of the locals). You should know –cops are cops anywhere in Africa, be assured that they will want bribes here too.

DAY 4 THURSDAY : STONE TOWN, SAUTI YA BUSARA  GRAND OPENING

I was grateful for the wireless internet at 1001 Nights because my Safaricom modem wasn’t working at all. Immediately after breakfast, we went on a tour of Stone Town. Mostly because my friend needed to take shots of some scenes for use in a music video. Wearing this t-shirt that read, ‘I hear voices in my head, but they speak Russian’, our guide Suleiman was very interesting and patient as he took us round.

teenage locals in Zanzibar

Teenage locals in Zanzibar

There were plenty of curio shops and hotels. The sugarcane juice >with a twist of lemon, was heavenly.

The souvenirs: I got two Deeras (flowing free dresses with bright colours and patterns). From the street vendors, I got ‘Taratibu za Jimai’-a book in Swahili about sex-conjugual rights rather. It is so detailed and shocking –I guess because I assumed the culture would disapprove of open sex talk.

At Jaws Corner (a place where we were informed men gathered to have coffee and talk politics), I met Kajole, who runs a curio shop just round that corner. He explained that a lot of political rallies have been held here, that President  Clinton has been here.  “… and Jaws Corner is not named after the four jaws of a shark , like your guide probably told you. This place is named after a game we used to play in the sea called jaws,” he insisted.

After the tour, we rushed to catch one of the Sauti ya Busara’s press conferences at Monsoon Restaurant. I had been looking forward to the Parade since I came here. However, catching it (after the press conference)was such a challenge because no one seemed to know which way it was. Most tourists were walking up and down the town asking about it. I was later to learn that the locals are not very keen about such.

 

 

 

The Opening Ceremony:

The finger

Circled is the finger that must survive

This was held at Old Fort, in Stone Town. A couple of speeches, lotsa live music, food, drinks, locals and tourist and businesses displaying items in tents-even our very own publishers Kwani? were there selling books.

Ary Morais really got be dancing

Ary Morais performs at Sauti ya Busara

There were plenty of great performances  but I especially remember Swahili Vibes and Ary Morais. Ary is a Norwegian based musician-originally from Cape Verde, and his music got everybody dancing.

THUMBS DOWN: Eti, if you left the event even for a second, you were not allowed back in unless you buy another ticket.

DAY 5 FRIDAY: 10 HOURS AT ABEID KARUME INT. AIRPORT

I had to leave my new found Island and miss the rest of the festival to get back to Nairobi for other commitments. I was especially sad about missing Bi. Kidude’s performance and Nigerian-German Nneka.  I told her (Zenji), rather happily that I’d be back in more relaxed circumstances to explore her mystique.

My flight back to Nairobi on Fly540 was departing at 12.20p.m so I was already checking in by 11 am. Unfortunately, we did not depart until 8.30 p.m-on an ‘East African’ branded plane. They did not quite explain the delay but they gave us lunch at the airport’s Palm Tree Restaurant. If it wasn’t for the red wine, the new friends I made and the whole season of Blue Mountain State on my laptop, I’d have been bored stiff. When we made a stop in Mombasa, there was even more drama at the immigration counter where we spent ages and kept being moved from line to line. Unable to stomach anymore crap, two people screamed and complained.

I recall finally getting into my bed at midnight that day, thanking God.

Crime-fiction book I like

January 13, 2012

BOOK TITLE:  TELL ME WHAT YOU LIKE-An Alison Kaine Mystery

Author: Kate Allen

Genre: Crime Fiction

As with most crime fiction mystery novels, ‘Tell me what you like’ is a hard book to put down. The first in Kate Allen’s Alison Kaine mystery series, she manages to capture and keep first time readers with her well-developed believable characters, humorous dialogue and fast-paced plot.

tell me what you like

Alison Kaine is a police officer who is supposed to be on vacation. Her plans to be out of town during this time are cancelled and she ends up at the park to pass time. There she meets Stacy, who plays as a goalkeeper in the lesbian soccer team. Alison and Stacy hit it off until Alison discovers Stacy makes a living as a dominatrix giving women their S & M fantasies. The mystery centers around the everyday lives of these lesbian women in a community where religious fundamentalists appear at every corner , even in the lesbian night clubs, to ‘straighten’ them out with the word of God.

In the backdrop of Alison’s new relationship, two lesbians are murdered in cold-blood. Once a cop, always a cop, they say and Alison Kaine pokes her nose into the mysterious murders time and again, pissing-off the male-officers officially on the case. Inspite of warnings to keep off the case, she  dives deeper into the detective work as she strongly believes that (being in this community) she has better chances of solving the murder. This she does with the help of her fellow lesbian neighbours Michelle and Janka who do some undercover work. The author manages to keep you going over the suspects subconsciously trying to figure out who the murderer might be.

Stacy, the detectives’ own lover tops the suspects’ lists, along with Dominique,  also a dominatrix. Both of the dead women were clients of Dominique. Carla, who Alison saves after an attack, is the only mystery because there’s just no motive or link; until she realizes  it was her (Alison) the murderer was after. The only reason she wasn’t attacked was because they’d exchanged sweaters in the basement while having a quickie with her earlier on.

The murderer is brought to light in slow bits. It could be the young Mark, a friend of Stacy’s. Mark, who  was brought up by four lesbian women until his birth mother came to reclaim him. He is the kind of man who takes matters into his own hands..

At the end of the day, we find out that it is the religious fundamentalists, whom Mark is a part of, that commit the crime. In addition to the mysterys’ exciting, informing and witty combination, erotica lovers will love the explicit sex-bits which left me squirming in my seat.


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