The best crime thrillers set in Africa

The Books I Picked & Why

Devil's Peak

By Deon Meyer

Book cover of Devil's Peak

Why this book?

Character-driven, brilliantly absorbing, genuinely exciting, and richly atmospheric – for me, all the attributes of a rewarding crime novel. Meyer’s almost broken protagonist, Benny Griessel, is a policeman whose personal and professional lives interleave with witnesses, associates, and perpetrators, making him both intensely vulnerable but, also, highly effective. Against the backdrop of both a dark and a blindingly bright Cape Town, Meyer describes brilliantly the motivations and circumstances that bring each of his characters into conflict, making for a nail-biting read.

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Facets of Death

By Michael Stanley

Book cover of Facets of Death

Why this book?

Michael Stanley is an author comprised of two writers: Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Their novels, set in Botswana and Zimbabwe, and featuring the enigmatic, Detective Kubu, have enjoyed much success in the UK and the US. Their latest story acts as a prequel, featuring Kubu just as he leaves university and joins Botswana’s CID. As a first case, Kubu is confronted with the theft of millions of dollars of diamonds, the execution of the robbers, a conniving witch doctor, and his son, and a case with international ramifications. Dark and thrilling.

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Easy Motion Tourist

By Leye Adenle

Book cover of Easy Motion Tourist

Why this book?

Visceral, immediate, and engrossing, Adenle’s debut novel features two main characters embroiled in a murder in Lagos. British journalist Guy Collins, an alien in a dangerous, fast-paced city is implicated in a gruesome crime. Amaka, a woman who has devoted herself to the protection of the city’s working girls, speaks for him, hoping that her intervention will be re-payed by Collins in the form of global publicity for her campaign against the people traffickers and body-parts smugglers. Both out of their depth, at great peril, and at the mercy of Nigeria’s mega-city and its huge cast of characters, they find themselves caught in a maze from which there appears no escape.

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Blood Rose

By Margie Orford

Book cover of Blood Rose

Why this book?

This book is all about the dark, foreboding atmosphere of its setting, a township in an isolated part of Walvis Bay, in Namibia. Dr. Clare Hart is a police profiler sent in to try to pin down the perpetrator of a gruesome crime against a teenage boy. For all Hart’s professional competence, her emotional and relationship skills are in doubt as her wavering romantic interest, Captain Reidwaan Faizal, arrives to lead the investigation. Fantastically well-observed, very dark, and beautifully written, you lose yourself in its fog-filled pages, but the journey is far from comfortable.

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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

By Alexander McCall Smith

Book cover of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Why this book?

For a more gentle form of crime writing, away from the gore of many, this famous series is charming, witty, beautifully observed, sparingly written, but richly described. Precious Ramotswe and her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi detect. Wayward daughters. Missing Husbands. Philandering partners. Curious conmen. If you've got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only - and finest - female private detective. Unconventional, relying less on the procedure and more on warmth, wit, and canny intuition - not to mention Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors – cases are solved most satisfyingly.

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