You don’t expect an Elmore Leonard book to start in Africa. Perhaps that is the point. The first five chapters of Pagan Babies is set in Rwanda, and is pretty much about the massacres. Admittedly it told me nothing I did not already know about that subject, but then I have read around, work at SOAS and seen the documentaries. For someone expecting the usual wiseguys and knockabout thrills from a Leonard it may well be an education.

S’Alright. You get the knockabout stuff in the rest of the book, though not as tightly plotted as usual. But it is entertaining right until the very end when the characters double crossing each other surprise with actually double crossing each other.

At which point we pop back to remind ourselves that some things are more important. Does this work? Not sure. Like I say, I am well acquainted with the situation in Rwanda (recent readers will no doubt pick up on the Hotel Rwanda references too). Can light pulp accommodate current affairs? It always did, so there is no reason why this can’t even if the global politics seem at odds with the petty thievery. I don’t think you can argue with Leonard for giving it a go, even if his Rwandan scenes do feel a little bit cribbed from textbooks (cockroaches – check, radio incitement of violence – check, banana beer – check). Five chapters of thought provoking nastiness, followed by feel good banter: it isn’t going to change the world. But it is nice that it is trying.