Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Murder in Mombasa

This is a synopsis of my latest book Murder in Mombasa

The tale is recounted by the American Consul when in the aftermath of a riotous shore visit, a U.S. Navy seaman is accused of murdering a Kenyan girl. But did he do it? His alibi says no, but Kenya must have someone to prosecute for the crime.  The pressure is on. The police, the public and government leaders clamor for conviction, so the case goes to trial. Not only is the man’s guilt or innocence at stake, but also U.S. - Kenyan relations. Meanwhile shadowy terrorist operatives and their possible links to the crime cloud clarity. Will justice prevail or will it be trumped by political expediency?

Ripped from the headlines, this story is based on a real incident.  The Mombasa, Kenya setting is impeccable as are descriptions of police, prison and judicial procedures.  Furthermore, handling of the problem by U.S. diplomats provides insight into the operations of the consular service. 

Rather than a review as such, let’s do some q&a’s about  Murder in Mombasa.

Why did you write the book?   I enjoy writing and find fiction a fascinating diversion from non-fiction.  It is easier to make up facts rather than look them up. However, this story is based on a real event.  I was the American Consul in Mombasa in the early 1980s at the time when a U.S. sailor was accused of murdering a Kenyan prostitute.   It caused  a big brouhaha in Kenya in part because several years earlier there had been another death of a prostitute wherein the U.S. sailor had been found guilty of manslaughter, but not sentenced to prison.  That verdict scandalized the populace.    So when another death occurred, the popular cry was for punishment.  My book is a fictionalized version of what ensued.  In order to spin the tale I invented personages and added plot.

What makes the story unique?   First, a narrator of events is the U.S. consul, so the reader sees the plot unfold from his perspective.  The book paints a realistic portrait of what American diplomats do overseas when citizens get in trouble.   Additionally, the murder troubled U.S. Kenyan relations more broadly so aspects of international diplomacy are included.  Secondly, the setting of the novel in Mombasa, Kenya is impeccable and the characters realistic, so those who know Kenya will find that the tale rings true.

So what sort of book is it?  It is a murder mystery that evolves into a courtroom drama all against a backdrop of diplomatic intrigue and maneuvering.  The question is did the sailor kill the girl or not? If not, who did? and why? And even if he did not, will he be convicted of the crime anyway? 

Why did you self publish it?  The publishing world is a brutal one. Self publishing via www.smashwords.com lets me put the book out there quickly for readers to enjoy. Also it’s inexpensive at only $2.99.  Murder in Mombasa is only available in ebook format, also from the istore and nook. The kindle version is available from smashwords and will soon appear on amazon.