“A mini-masterpiece... in the best tradition of the crime thriller. The strength of this novel is its ability to drop situations like mortar bombs, keeping the reader on edge.“

"A mini-masterpiece! This is a real and gritty thriller with no holds barred, which is set in Mali, a small country to the west of Nigeria, and which is one of the poorest countries in the world. Mali was conquered by the French in the middle of the 19th Century and gained independence in 1960. Since then it has been plagued by insurgents including Al Quaeda. 

The story is set in 2009 and is centred on Souleymane Camara, an ex-cop from France who is wanted by the French authorities, but who has fled to Mali to rebuild his life. Known generally as ‘Solo’ he is the White Leopard of the title, Warakalan Jeman, a noms de guerre given to investigators by journalists to spice up their stories. The name is a little incongruous due to his being mixed race with a father from Mali and mother from France.

In the best tradition of the crime thriller, Solo is a damaged individual with a tragic past where he lost both his wife and child. He is now a private investigator under some protection from Kansaye, the Commissioner of Police and friend of Solo’s father.
Solo is approached by Farah Tebessi whose sister Bahia is being held for being a drugs mule. Farah is prepared to pay whatever necessary to bribe the judge to let her go, and Solo is engaged as the go between.

It would be wrong for me to go into any more detail at this point as the strength of this novel is its ability to drop situations like mortar bombs, at regular intervals, thereby keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. There are murders, drugs cartels, secrets and lies aplenty which Solo attacks with guns blazing.

The author was himself a policeman involved in crimes involving narcotics, gangs and financial crimes as well as working as an advisor to the Mali police. His writing has that mark of authenticity which makes it totally convincing, and I felt, his style gave a nod to the writing of Ian Fleming. 

Solo is a great character in the mould of Jack Reacher and Harry Hole; that is, capable of doing terrible things to avenge evil and enforce natural justice; and inevitably he pays a high price.

It wouldn’t be right to praise the author without mention of the translator, who has done a superlative job. It reads as if written originally in English and at no time did I feel anything was ‘lost in translation’. Well done Sophie!

If I was offered any other books by Laurent Guillaume to review, I would accept in a heartbeat. It is simply, a very honest book, true to its genre.” —Breakaway Reviewers

White Leopard