Tag Archives: South Africa

A Review of Icarus by Deon Meyer

Icarus (Benny Griessel #5)

by Deon Meyer


I really like this series. All of the detectives are quirky. They each have their traits that define them. The only problem you may have with this series is the sprinkling of South African words and phrases. Most of them are just what they sound like, but every once in a while you may be stumped. Thankfully, Mr. Meyer does include a glossary at the end of the book, so you don’t have to search the web.

In Icarus, Captain Benny Griessel, who is an alcoholic, falls off the wagon after nearly two years of sobriety. Mr. Meyers handles the struggles that he is going though very realistically. I could really identify with Benny. I could relate to the messed up thinking that is what an alcoholic has to fight against every day. Hopefully he will be able find his way.

This is a Police Procedural. There is a murder to be solved. The victim was the head of a software company that wrote an app that facilitated marital cheating. It produced alibis for its subscribers. At the same time as the investigation is proceeding, you are sitting in on a meeting between a lawyer and her client. This series of interviews gives you the history behind the South African wine industry, which then ties back into the murder.

Icarus is a serious book, with humor sprinkled in, not a cozy mystery. Even though everyone in the book has their funny side, it doesn’t get in the way of the story, but it does allow for a bit of comic relief.

I give Icarus 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up! If you are ready to explore a different culture, and don’t mind having to jump to the glossary once in a while, then you should give this unique South African mystery series a try. I think you will like it.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the Publisher.

Book Description

Icarus by Deon MeyerSouth Africa’s preeminent crime fiction writer, Deon Meyer is internationally acclaimed for his razor’s-edge thrillers, unforgettable characters, and nuanced portrayals of contemporary life in his native country. The fifth pulse-pounder starring Captain Benny Griessel, a lead detective in South Africa’s priority crimes unit, delves into the country’s burgeoning tech and wine industries.

A week before Christmas, a young photographer discovers a plastic-wrapped corpse amidst the sand dunes north of Cape Town. The only thing found on the corpse is a dead iPhone, but it doesn’t take long for the police to identify the body as that of Ernst Richter—the tech whiz behind MyAlibi, an internet service that provides unfaithful partners with sophisticated cover stories to hide an affair. Meanwhile, Benny Griessel is called to the scene of a multiple homicide involving a former colleague, and four years of sobriety are undone on the spot. He emerges from his drunken haze determined to quit the force, but the take-no-sass Major Mbali Kaleni, now his boss, wants Griessel on the Richter case. The high-profile murder has already been the subject of fierce media speculation, with questions swirling about the potential for motive: could the perpetrator be one of the countless jilted spouses? An aggrieved client?

Before the week is out, an unexpected connection to a storied family winery comes to light, and Griessel’s reputation is again on the line. Mounting towards a startling conclusion, Icarus is another exceptional novel from the “King of South African Crime.”

Book Details


Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; Tra edition (October 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802124003
ISBN-13: 978-0802124005
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Deon MeyerDeon Meyer’s books have attracted worldwide critical acclaim and a growing international fanbase. Originally written in Afrikaans, they have now been translated into twenty-eight languages. THIRTEEN HOURS was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger and won the Boeke Prize in South Africa – the first time in the prize’s 16 year history that a South African book has won. His novels have also won literary prizes in France, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, and the film rights to seven of his novels have been optioned or sold. Deon has also written two television series, and several screenplays for movies. In 2013 he directed one of his original scripts for the feature film The Last Tango. Deon Meyer lives near Cape Town in South Africa. His big passions are motorcycling, music, reading, cooking and rugby. In January 2008 he retired from his day job as a consultant on brand strategy for BMW Motorrad, and is now a full time author. Visit the author’s website at http://www.deonmeyer.com and follow him on Twitter @MeyerDeon


A Review of Cobra by Deon Meyer


by Deon Meyer

CobraI’ve read a few books by South African authors. This one is definitely on the top of the heap. Mr. Meyer does an excellent  job of drawing the reader into the story. He uses a multi-ethnic cast of characters to bring the diversity of Cape Town, South Africa to life. His characters have an authentic feel. You like them.

Captain Benny Griessel and the rest of the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI), commonly called the Hawks, have to fight against  government corruption and public preconceptions. They have to dodge officials that want to shut down their investigation, and they know that nearly everyone else wants to bury the truth, but if they succumb to pressure, more people will die, and the corrupt officials and organized criminals will go free. They are the good guys, so they press forward.

Cobra is a difficult book to initially get into. Mr. Meyer uses quite a bit of South African slang and Afrikaans phrases. He has a glossary in the back of the book, but looking up each word gets tedious, and slows down the book. So I ended up just reading them phonically, and acting like they were spoken words that I didn’t understand. I got the gist of them, and just kept on reading. Once I started doing that, everything flowed much better.

Mr. Meyer uses a changing “Point of View” type of writing to build tension and keep your interest as the story unfolds. As he gets to the climax, he cuts rapidly from scene to scene, and that keeps the action at a frantic pace. You have to keep reading, you just don’t want to stop. It works very well.

The Hawks are a bunch of well-rounded characters. Mr. Meyer isn’t afraid to give them real personalities, warts and all. But their strongest character trait is that they all really care, and want to be the best cops that they can be. I feel like I want to read more of the books in this series.

The storyline is very engaging. Mr. Meyer has the ability to write an exciting, fast paced story, but still makes you care about his characters. He also gives you a look into life in Cape Town. You feel that you get to know the area through his eyes.

I really enjoyed Cobra, and think that you will too. I give it 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and A Big Thumbs Up! If you are will to put in a little work at the beginning, you will be well rewarded.

I received this book for free from the publisher, in return for an honest review.

Book Description

Celebrated as the “King of South African crime,” Deon Meyer is a world-class writer whose page-turning thrillers probe the social and racial complexities of his native country. In his latest novel, the bodies of three people are found at an exclusive guest house in the beautiful Franschhoek wine valley. Two of them were professional bodyguards, but the British citizen they were meant to be protecting is nowhere to be found; left behind are his brand new passport, new suitcase, and new clothes. And the spent shell cases bear a chilling engraving: the flaring head of a spitting cobra.

Meanwhile, in Cape Town, a skilled pickpocket is using his considerable talents to put his younger sister through school. But one day he is caught in the act. Security guards begin to question him, only to be killed with consummate ease by a stranger who leaves behind the distinctive shell cases.

With the help of his colleagues, Detective Benny Griessel rushes to untangle a case that only grows more complex. The British man’s passport turns out to be a fake, but the British consulate is decidedly unhelpful. And then the pickpocket’s sister is abducted. From Cape Town’s famous waterfront to a deadly showdown on a suburban train, Cobra hurtles towards a shocking finale—and someone may not make it out alive.

Book Details

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802123244
ISBN-13: 978-0802123244
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

Mark Kohn, Amsterdam
Mark Kohn, Amsterdam

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. Before becoming a full-time crime author in 2009 he also worked as press liaison, advertising copywriter, creative director, Internet strategist, and brand consultant. Deon completed an honours degree in History (UFS), and an MA in Creative Writing at the US.

He 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 27 languages, including English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, Finnish, Czech, Romanian, Slovakian and Bulgarian.

He has written several feature film screenplays based on his short stories, including Jakhalsdans, Die Ballade van Robbie de Wee, and Die Laaste Tango (he also directed the latter), and two series for television – Orion (based on Dead at Daybreak) and Transito. The film rights of Thirteen Hours have been sold to an international production company, and most of his other novels have been optioned for movies.

Deon lives near Cape Town. His big passions are motorcycling, music (he is a Mozart fanatic, but loves rock ‘n roll too), reading, cooking and rugby (he unconditionally supports the national Springbok team and the Free State Cheetahs provincial team).

Book Description and Details are from Amazon. Cobra


A Review of Like Clockwork: A Clare Hart Mystery by Margie Orford

Like-Clockwork-CoverLike Clockwork: A Clare Hart Mystery (Dr. Clare Hart)
by Margie Orford

This is not an easy book to read. There are a lot of disturbing passages describing violence upon women. It’s not that Ms. Orford is subjecting you to extremely graphic descriptions, it is more that the characters so easily slough off the events as though they are commonplace, everyday occurrences. This is what is so disturbing. The matter-of-fact way that violence to women is portrayed tended to upset me and then I had to put the book down for a bit. The whole gritty portrayal of South Africa was hard to take. It felt quite real, but not a reality that I wanted to have to live in.

I realize that South Africa is not the United States, and that there is a whole different cultural attitude towards the role of women in many areas of Africa, Ms. Orford exposes those abuses. She shows the casual attitude that some criminal elements have towards human trafficking and kidnapping. This book punches you in the face, and says “Wake Up”. There are a lot of abuses that need to be exposed, and changes that need to happen.

This was a well written book. Sometimes the South African words, or style of writing, or something mentioned confused me, but I usually was able to get the idea of what was meant. I would like to read more in this series, — just not right away. I give Like Clockwork 4 Stars out of 5 and a Thumbs Up. This is a dark story and may be disturbing, but it is worth reading.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description
Release date: April 22, 2014

When a beautiful young woman is found murdered on Cape Town’s Sea Point promenade, journalist and part-time police profiler Dr. Clare Hart is drawn into the web of a brutal serial killer. As more bodies are discovered, Clare is forced to revisit the brutal rape of her twin sister and the gang ties that bind Cape Town’s dark crime rings. Is her investigation into human trafficking linked to the murders, or is the killer just playing a sick game with her?

Like Clockwork is a dark and compelling crime story that will thrill fans of Deon Meyer and Tess Gerritsen.

Product Details

File Size: 417 KB
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Witness Impulse (April 22, 2014)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Lending: Not Enabled

About the Author

Crime novelist, who is already an award-winning journalist and film director, and author of children’s fiction, non-fiction and school text books. Born in London, she grew up in Namibia and South Africa. While at the University of Cape Town she wrote for Varsity and was detained during the State of Emergency in 1985. She wrote her final exams in prison. After traveling widely, she studied under J M Coetzee, and worked in publishing in the newly-independent Namibia, where she became involved in training through the African Publishers Network. In 1999 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and while in New York she worked on a groundbreaking archival retrieval project, WOMEN WRITING AFRICA: The Southern Volume.  Her latest non-fiction project Fabulously 40 and Beyond: Women Coming Into their Own (Spearhead/NAB, 2006).  She lives in Cape Town.

The book description is from Amazon.  Like Clockwork: A Clare Hart Mystery (Dr. Clare Hart)

A Review of Pale Horses By Jassy Mackenzie

Pale HorsesPale Horses

By Jassy Mackenzie

This well written detective thriller gives you a disturbing glimpse into the lives of the citizens of South Africa. Ms. Mackenzie presents the extent that lawlessness and the need to for self-protection is just an everyday part of the life of everyone living in South Africa. This is not the theme of the story, but rather the backdrop for the action. Very eye-opening, and it makes you glad that you aren’t subjected to that much violence.

The private investigator, Jade de Jong is an interesting and troubled person. She has some issues that must have been developed in the previous books in the series. Even though you know that she is dealing with something that happened in an earlier book, it doesn’t prevent you from reading and understanding what is going on in this book. It just makes you want to read those earlier works. You feel a strong empathy for her, even though you might not want her as a friend.

I enjoyed reading this South African puzzler. The story has a very realistic feel to it. There is plenty of action and quite a few unexpected twists. I am planning on reading some of Ms. Mackenzie’s earlier novels.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Description

Release date: April 16, 2013 | Series: Jade De Jong

Book 4 in the PI Jade de Jong thriller series set in South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa: At first, the case appears to be one of simple misadventure. Sonet Meintjies, a base jumper, falls to her death while attempting to parachute off a newly built sixty-five-story skyscraper. But Sonet’s jumping partner insists that this was no accident, and he hires private investigator Jade de Jong to uncover the truth.

Jade discovers that Sonet worked for a charity that helped impoverished communities become self-supporting farming units. When Jade travels out to the community farm in Limpopo, she finds it not just abandoned but razed to the ground. Digging deeper for answers about where the residents went, Jade learns about a fatal but unidentified disease that swept through the entire community. A deadly harvest has been gathered, and the person who knows the real truth about it has been forced to become collateral in its trade.

Product Details

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Soho Crime; Reprint edition (April 16, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616952210

ISBN-13: 978-1616952211

Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

Jassy Mackenzie was born in Rhodesia and moved to South Africa when she was eight years old. She is the author of three previous Jade de Jong novels, Random Violence, Stolen Lives, and The Fallen, and she edits and writes for the annual publication Best of South Africa.

The book description and author information is from Amazon. Pale Horses