Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
Some Roman once said that there is always something new coming out of Africa, but in crime literature that has not been too true until recently. Back in the 1960s, after their expulsion from South Africa, Tom Sharpe and James McClure both returned to that unhappy country for some or near-all of their work, but – McClure particularly and unfortunately – never got around to dealing with the post-apartheid South Africa.
Now Deon Meyer, who writes in Afrikaans but has contracts all around the world, is bringing us up to date. Blood Safari is his fifth thriller to appear in English. Though he is new to me, when I checked out his other titles on Amazon, I learned that readers who liked Meyer also bought Lee Child. That means readers with taste who were one step ahead of me.
In the world of Deon Meyer it is not unusual that others are one step ahead. Fortunately, I am just a reader, and a foreigner, because it would mean, confusion and pain for me, suffering for others. And heartbreak for South Africa. In the chasing, thundering, misunderstanding world of a man such as Lemmer – he does not use his first name, there are things for which he has no use – a man who wants to do right, a man who in his job as a bodyguard, wants not just to be close to the body he has to guard, but to forestall hurt to that body if he can work out where the danger might come from – in that world, he will never be in a position to know, because the powers that be and the powers that want to be will always be one step ahead. So much ahead that Lemmer and his client – orphan heiress Emma Le Roux – will never know where or who they are.
Blood Safari takes Emma Le Roux on a hunt for her missing brother up country to the big game parks, where a few people with spirit are striving to save the land and its wildlife, and where their opposition might be large corporations, but could equally be the native peoples who want their original farmland back. Lemmer, who we learn has something to expiate in his life, finds it difficult to trust the police, now with black officers who might be sympathetic to tribes people, though Lemmer admits to we readers he has a background that makes him a natural suspect anyway. An unfortunate connection with a couple of plain clothes police officers does not make Lemmer’s relationship with the police any easier. The connection is fist and head.
Deon Meyer does not have a series protagonist, though the principals in each book share a lot of characteristics. Gradually, Lemmer manages to work out why his opponents are ahead of him. He has a more difficult job of making sense of Emma Le Roux, her missing brother/found brother, and the other bodies on the way, but that too works itself out. I was a little disappointed that this was done with an info dump lasting several pages, which also brings in some real political history – it gave the end of the book a rushed feel – but I could see why those Amazon readers who liked Lee Child have been reading Deon Meyer, too. I expect to join them.