Souleymane "Solo" Camara was a French police detective before a tragedy forced him to flee France. Now a private investigator in Mali (the West African nation was his father's homeland), Solo is approached by a beautiful French lawyer named Farah, who wants him to help her free her sister, Bahia, imprisoned for smuggling cocaine from Mali to France.
Solo successfully bribes a judge to free Bahia, but the day after her release Bahia washes up in the river, with her throat cut. Farah is distraught, and forces Solo's involvement in the case by telling everyone she's hired him to find and kill her sister's killers. The killers, who are connected to some very bad men, decide to eliminate Solo before he can find them.
A fast-paced, hardboiled thriller, White Leopard is over-the-top and violent. Its depiction of the corrupt Malian society is fascinating, giving a detailed look at a country that many Americans know little about. Solo's vague past, his dark demons and his wry sense of humor make him a surprisingly likable antihero. His travels through the developing nation, his descriptions of the vibrant and smelly city of Bamako, and his inability to let the case go, even when it would be in his best interest to walk away, make for an enthralling read. White Leopard is the first of Laurent Guillaume's books to be translated into English, but it surely won't be the last. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm