Some Reflections on the Detective Novel as an Allegory of Contemporary Kenya

  • Jennifer Muchiri University of Nairobi
  • Tom Odhiambo University of Nairobi
Keywords: Detective Novel; Kenya; Crime; Moral Decay; Allegory; Ethnicity

Abstract

The detective novel has for a long time been seen as a popular genre, often supposedly read for entertainment as opposed to its concern with ‘serious’ issues about society. This paper reads two detective novels by Richard Crompton to examine what they seem to be suggesting about social reality in 21st century Kenya. Crompton’s The Honey Guide (2013) and Hell’s Gate (2014) appear to suggest that the Kenyan national body is ailing because of social turpitude. We argue that these two detective novels are profound commentaries, moral fables and critiques of given socio-economic, political and cultural realities in the 21st century Kenya; and that the corruption of the Kenyan body is partly a consequence of both local and international forces such as the circulation of what could be called ‘crimescapes.’

Author Biographies

Jennifer Muchiri, University of Nairobi

Jennifer Muchiri teaches in the Department of Literature at the University of Nairobi. She has a BA, MA and PhD in Literature from the University of Nairobi. She has research interests in women’s writing, African literature, and life writing.

Tom Odhiambo, University of Nairobi

Tom Odhiambo teaches in the Department of Literature at the University of Nairobi. He has a B.Ed. from Moi University and an MA and a PhD in African Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand. He has research interests in popular literature/culture and the performing arts.

Published
2021-06-11

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eISSN: 1998-1279