The best African noir thrillers

Who are we?

Michael Stanley is actually two people—Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip both South Africans, passionate about Africa and its cultures. We read a lot of books set in or concerning Africa. We think of African thrillers as Sunshine Noir—things are always at their most deadly in the glare of the sun! The diverse cultures generate complex character clashes and intriguingly original plots. We believe some of the best thrillers anywhere are set in Africa and written by African writers. Michael writes an article every month titled Africa Scene for the International Thrillers Writers magazine (The Big Thrill) where he interviews an author about a new thriller set in Africa.


We wrote...

A Deadly Covenant: A Detective Kubu Mystery

By Michael Stanley,

Book cover of A Deadly Covenant: A Detective Kubu Mystery

What is our book about?

A Deadly Covenant is a prequel flashing back to Detective Kubu’s early career with the Botswana CID. 

When the skeleton of a long-dead Bushman is discovered, Kubu and the pathologist investigate and discover a massacre of Bushmen. Then an elder of the village is murdered at his home. The local police believe it was the result of a robbery gone wrong, but Kubu thinks otherwise. So does an elderly woman who believes it was the work of a powerful river spirit. When she dies in an apparent crocodile attack, suspicions rise. Set in the evocative Okavango Delta, local mythology and superstition entwine with socio-political and geo-political themes to make for a satisfyingly immersive mystery that begs resolution until the last, unpredictable moment.

The books we picked & why

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Thirteen Hours: A Benny Griessel Novel

By Deon Meyer, K.L. Seegers (translator),

Book cover of Thirteen Hours: A Benny Griessel Novel

Why this book?

Michael started this book one evening and finished it at four in the morning! You won’t put this one down. An American girl is being hunted on Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town. We don’t know why and neither does she. The one thing she does know is that if they catch her she will die. Meanwhile, under pressure from their bosses and the girl’s distraught father, the police try to put together the clues that may lead them to answers about where she is. Thirteen Hours is a great remedy for low blood pressure! 

Thirteen Hours: A Benny Griessel Novel

By Deon Meyer, K.L. Seegers (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Thirteen Hours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Sunday Times '100 best crime novels and thrillers since 1945' pick!

Shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger Award 2010

They killed her best friend. Now they are chasing Rachel Anderson through the streets of Cape Town. The young tourist doesn't dare trust anyone - except her father, back home in America. When he puts pressure on the politicians, they know that to protect their country's image, they must find Rachel's hiding place before the killers.

So Benny Griessel - detective, maverick and father of teenagers himself - has just 13 hours to crack open a conspiracy which threatens the…


The Missing American

By Kwei Quartey,

Book cover of The Missing American

Why this book?

Emma Djan is a policewoman turned private investigator in Ghana. Her assignment is to track down the missing American who came out to Ghana to meet a woman who is almost certainly the fictional creation of internet scammers—the sakawa boys. We love Emma Djan’s combination of commitment and naiveté as she takes on the scammers, and the way Quartey weaves the local culture—complete with fetish priests and celebrities—into an intriguing plot. If you like to travel, visit Ghana. Great lead character, great plot, great sense of place. What’s not to like? A worthy Shamus Award winner.

The Missing American

By Kwei Quartey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Missing American as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Gordon Tilson falls victim to an online scam, he finds himself alone in the whirlwind city of Accra. But his decision to confront those responsible leads him into unimaginable danger. Now his son Derek has lost all contact with him and has no choice but to travel into the heart of Ghana to begin a near impossible search for his father.

Frustrated by the inadequate local police, Derek turns to Emma Djan, a young private detective desperate to prove her worth. In a heart-stopping race against time, they must expose those at the very centre of Accra's power who…

Lightseekers

By Femi Kayode,

Book cover of Lightseekers

Why this book?

Loosely based on a true story, Lightseekers explores the dynamics of mob violence and how it can be manipulated. What persuaded a gang of boys at a rural university to behave as they did? Why was the response so out of proportion? How was the local politics involved and why? In this thriller we know what happened, the mystery is why and how it happened the way it did. A superb debut.

Lightseekers

By Femi Kayode,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lightseekers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Waterstones Thriller of the Month 'Lightseekers is ripe with all the twists and turns you could hope for... A fast-paced thriller that offers insight into the ever present tensions in a poverty stricken community. An action-packed and spirited debut' Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of My Sister, the Serial Killer Selected as a Best Crime Novel of the Month by The Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Financial Times and Irish Times. Winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize, Lightseekers is the start of a major new crime series introducing investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo. When three young students are brutally…

My Sister, the Serial Killer

By Oyinkan Braithwaite,

Book cover of My Sister, the Serial Killer

Why this book?

This book is stunning because it’s so original. The narrator is the sister of a woman who regularly falls for the wrong man and then kills him when she finds out. Not only that, but she expects her sister to help her clean up the murder scene. It’s superficially unbelievable, but Braithwaite’s brilliance makes it entirely believable because of the family’s background and the suffocatingly close bond between the two sisters. True, the Nigerian police miss a few points that a US police detective would pick up, but that’s how they operate. Some great thrillers are coming out of Nigeria and this is one of them.

My Sister, the Serial Killer

By Oyinkan Braithwaite,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked My Sister, the Serial Killer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sunday Times bestseller and The Times #1 bestseller

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
Winner of the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller
Capital Crime Debut Author of the Year 2019
__________

'A literary sensation'
Guardian

'A bombshell of a book... Sharp, explosive, hilarious'
New York Times

'Glittering and funny... A stiletto slipped between the ribs and through the left ventricle of the heart' Financial Times
__________

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber…


Young Blood

By Sifiso Mzobe,

Book cover of Young Blood

Why this book?

Sipho is a young man with nothing to lose. He drops out of high school and joins a car-stealing syndicate. The novel is part thriller and part coming-of-age tale, and the story takes the reader on an emotional journey as Sipho is sucked deeper and deeper into South African township crime. The author grew up in this township, and but for his other talents might have followed the same path as his protagonist. A remarkable look at the reality of township life and its effect on the youth.

Young Blood

By Sifiso Mzobe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Young Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sipho lives in Umlazi, Durban – he is seventeen, has dropped out of school and helps out at his father’s mechanic shop. But odd jobs do not provide the lifestyle his friend Musa has, with his BMW and designer clothes. Soon Sipho’s love for fast cars and money leads him into a life of crime that brings him close to drugs, death and prison time.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murder, Nigeria, and private investigators?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murder, Nigeria, and private investigators.

Murder Explore 451 books about murder
Nigeria Explore 34 books about Nigeria
Private Investigators Explore 165 books about private investigators

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like H Is for Hawk, Skyfaring, and Eileen if you like this list.