cover image Mensah


Gbontwi Anyetei. Dedalus, $15.99 trade paper (230p) ISBN 978-1-910213-41-4

Nathan Mensah, the narrator of Anyetei’s fun, fast-moving first novel, prowls the mean streets of the African immigrant underworld in “a dangerous part of London called Hackney.” One of many spiritual great-great-grandkids of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Nate isn’t a detective. “There’s not really a name for what I do... A fixer, independent gangster, connection man.” Hired by the rich Grayson Fielding to find his missing young wife, originally from South Sudan, Nate, in time-honored tradition, follows every lead, gets involved in side cases, and faces the added mystery of two murdered white women on his turf. Traditional narrative gets a fresh mix with sudden breaks to insert notes on the maximum penalties for the specific crime Nate just committed. Also adding interest are chapter titles, such as “Your favorite criminal’s favorite criminal.” One plot twist is a tip of the hat to Agatha Christie. A useful glossary for slang and foreign expressions appears at the end, though most readers won’t have trouble figuring out, for instance, that “knawmean” means “You know what I mean?” Fans of London noir are in for a treat. (Feb.)