Written by Deon Meyer

Review written by Maureen Carlyle

Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £12.99
Released: 1st September 2011

The author is proclaimed to be “South Africa’s answer to Stieg Larsson” in a banner headline on the cover.  I wouldn’t disagree with that.  He is certainly as powerful a writer, although his style is slightly different, and considerably more complex.


There are the same short chapters, and rapid switching between different groups of characters and the points of view of those characters.  Some of it is told in the form of a diary, and another part in the first person by someone who plays a small, but vital, part in the action.  The last section begins like an entirely new book, the story of a private detective searching for a missing person.  The reader needs to be as sharp and perceptive as the writer.  It is very easy to confuse some of the characters, and an index of characters might be very useful.


Don’t be put off by the foregoing, because this is one of the most absorbing crime stories you are ever likely to read.


Entangled in this intriguing web are the following: An extremist Muslim organisation, based in Cape Town; various individuals working in the Cape Town government secret service; Milla Strachan, the abused wife of a wealthy Afrikaaner, who leaves her abusive husband and looks for a journalist’s job, but instead lands one with the secret service; Lemmer, a bodyguard employed by a Cape Town security firm; various evil low-lifes from the South African criminal classes and Mat Joubert, an ex-superintendent of police who now works for a private detective agency and is searching for a missing husband, thought by all who know him to be of extremely good character.


The sights and sounds of the magnificent landscapes of the Cape Peninsula and the Karoo are wonderfully conveyed, and the book is expertly translated from Afrikaans by K.L. Seegers.  I can’t wait to catch up with all of Deon Meyer’s previous books.  It would be a pity to give away any more about the plot.

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