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"He reached for the case file, took out the crime-scene
photographs one by one and arranged them in rows in front
of him. In full colour, Hanneke Sloet lay on the big, highly
polished marble tiles beside a single round pillar. The red-
black blood in stark contrast to her sleeveless white dress
and the light grey floor. She lay on her back, right arm over
her body, the right hand pressed to the wound in her belly.
She had tried to stem the massive blood loss to the very end...
"Griessel examined the crime-scene photos again.
Stabbed only once. She lay four metres from the front
door, no signs of sex. That meant an absence of semen, of
bruising on the victim...
"looking for statements, found a white envelope...He opened
it, removed the contents. Three large colour prints. Of a living
Hanneke Sloet. They excited him immediately, making him
forget what he was looking for...
"Lovely woman. And she knew it. She liked it, she was
displaying it a little..."
By Deon Meyer
This is my third Novel from this great author and he doesn't disappoint in providing intense, complex novels that pulls reader into the "darkest" of Africa. Blood Safari and Thirteen Hours, which won the 2011 Barry Award for Best Thriller, are the other two, as well as Seven Days, and are all quite easy to recommend to you. Michael Connelly states on the back of this latest, "Deon Meyer is one of the unsung masters." I would go further to say that if you are a fan of Connelly's novels, then you will enjoy Meyer's police procedurals/crime thrillers...
The case was cold and might have stayed that way until the emails started to come from "anonymous" who blamed the police for a cover up of the murder of Hanneke Sloet, a local lawyer. Using Bible reference, he threatens that unless the killer is arrested, he will begin shooting police officers daily...
The first were wounded, but then an officer moved during the shot and died... Benny Griessel, who is the main character, a member of an elite group called the Hawks was called in to take over While now sober, Benny constantly battles his alcohol addiction, and wasn't sure why he was brought in to head the murder case.
I loved the playoff of two different but related cases, one of which was the murder headed up by Benny while Mbali, a woman after my own heart, is tasked with finding the shooter! Fortunately, both respected each other for their expertise, because both of them had a past that allowed other officers to question how they got where they were. But when the officers began falling to the sniper, all of them pulled together, working nonstop to not only solve the earlier murder which had initiated the shootings, but to also stop and arrest that shooter!
Readers will quickly pick up on the political environment within the government as well as Africa. Before long, the shooter was not happy with the response of the police and started writing to the newspaper, who then started the usual pressure and questioning whether the individual, no matter that he was shooting cops, was correct that there was a cover-up...
The amazing thing was that nobody that was involved knew anything about the murder of Hanneke Sloet! Nor could they figure out any connection that could result in the type of revenge that was happening... Benny studied the earlier file and went through all of the usual steps from the beginning and could find nothing that had been wrong or not found earlier.
And those involved in her life either were lying, or ignored some things, not understanding the possible relevance to her murder... The depth of the investigation soon was beyond belief and everybody was under the looking glass. Only one clue allowed me to hone in on my choice for the murder...but then I was wrong since Meyer followed through with a twisted ending...LOL
And then the techies become involved with the case! And as basic information on telephone calls, messaging, bank accounts, backgrounds of persons of interest are all merged and cross-matched, a member of the involved officials is pinpointed for questioning! All eyes turn toward the political arena where company fraud, money laundering, etc., are all explored. Illegal activities were being discovered, but they didn't help to solve the murder!
Benny has become a character with whom you will become emotionally involved. Now divorced, he tries to stay involved with his two children and has fallen for a star who is trying to make a comeback. But she is also an alcoholic and she both tempts Benny to drink, while at the same time, he's trying to save her and keep himself from drinking. You will almost feel his pain as she calls Benny while he is working the case, crying and asking him to come to her. The poignancy of his close relationships ensures that we recognize the danger as well as the damage to the personal lives of those who choose to serve as police officers.
Whew! Be prepared to pay attention as you start to read this one, or you might be just as lost as Benny and Mbali felt. But both kept pushing and clearing away information that did not fit...If you like shuffling through the clues, gathering the data, finding the connections, and following through to the end of a tough mystery...you gotta read this one! In fact, check out Deon Meyer's total collection. I think once you read one, you'll look for another, and another... Enjoy!
Deon Meyer was born in the South African town of Paarl in the winelands of the Western Cape in 1958, and grew up in Klerksdorp, in the gold mining region of Northwest Province.
After military duty and studying at the Potchefstroom University, he joined Die Volksblad, a daily newspaper in Bloemfontein as a reporter. Since then, he has worked as press liaison, advertising copywriter, creative director, web manager, Internet strategist, and brand consultant.
Deon wrote his first book when he was 14 years old, and bribed and blackmailed his two brothers into reading it. They were not impressed (hey, everybody is a critic ...)
Heeding their wisdom, he did not write fiction again until he was in his early thirties, when he started publishing short stories in South African magazines.
"I still believe that is the best way to learn the craft of writing. Short stories teach you a lot about story structure - and you have limited space to develop character and plot," says Deon.
In 1994 he published his first Afrikaans novel, which has not been translated, "simply because it was not good enough to compete on the international market. However, it was a wonderful learning experience."
All later novels have been translated into 25 languages, including English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, Finnish, Czech, Romanian, Slovakian and Bulgarian.
Deon lives in Melkbosstrand on the South African West Coast with his wife, Anita, and they have four children to keep them busy: Lida, Liam, Johan and Konstanz.