Reconciliation for the Dead

Written by Paul E Hardisty

Review written by Robin Jarossi


Reconciliation for the Dead
Orenda Books
RRP: £8.99
Released: May 30, 2017
PBK

This thriller has the look of a rugged, all-action explosion-fest. With helicopter gunships on the cover and a glossary of acronyms upfront denoting various militias and security agencies; you might think you’re in for a testosterone fuelled sequences of implausible cliff-hangers featuring one-dimensional characters. Instead Hardisty’s thriller is an intelligent, chilling story inspired by real events.

Southern Africa around 1980 is the setting. Claymore Straker is a young paratrooper in the South African Army fighting in Angola against communist factions threatening to overthrow the Apartheid government at home. He believes in the cause and is devoted to his commander, the formidable Crowbar. The depiction of the landscape is vivid thanks to assured writing, and it is during the most nightmarish of battle encounters that Clay’s allegiances begin to buckle. Why is it that UNITA [South Africa’s allies in Angola] are trading diamonds and ivory in the midst of war? This is the first of several disturbing moments that Clay experiences, making him question what he and his fellow soldiers are really sacrificing their lives and sanity for.

The pace is machine-gun rapid though the narrative has a firm emotional grip. Clay’s relationships with fellow soldier Eben Barstow, and the doctor who assists him becoming his ally [Vivian Russell], are distinctive and intensely moving. Together they are all united in getting to the heart of Operation COAST; a covert programme of warfare run by the Apartheid regime that was particularly sinister. 

This is Canadian Paul Hardisty’s third Straker novel and it is indeed a compelling read and is more thought-provoking than many mainstream thrillers. The writing at times is poetic, at other times filled with tension in a narrative complete with well delineated characters and several shocks.

Highly Recommended. 



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