Another worthwhile South African thriller.
The translation from Afrikaans is fluid, but foreign readers may balk at all the South Africanisms, despite the flavour that they bring.
Detective Storm van der Merwe is a great character; feisty, stocky and sharp. Her determination to pursue her target is so driven that she battles with her conscience over ignoring personal emergencies, like her mother’s illness. I am glad that we’ll be hearing more from her.
Set mostly in a small town on the shark-diving coast of South Africa, this thriller centres on the illegal abalone trade and is further complicated by flashes on seemingly unconnected incidents in Cape Town and surrounds involving the suspiciously speedy arrival of tow trucks at the scene of road accidents. Then a Springbok rugby player is fatally injured when a tow truck ploughs into his vehicle. Investigating the incident is Storm’s former partner, Andreas Moerdyk, a man who skates very close to destroying his career with alcohol. Irna van Zyl keeps him in play with his infatuation with Storm, tempering him just enough by his shame at what his partner will think of him if he does not shape up.
When Storm is banished to the coastal town of Hermanus for her inappropriate protest at the shooting of beached whales, her chief orders her to keep her head down by working cold cases. Finding the body of an investigative journalist on the beach, with an arm missing, while walking her dogs, is not an investigation that she finds it possible to leave to others.
There are twists and surprises enough to keep one guessing, and the suspense is tightly wound to keep the pages turning.
Thanks to Dominique Le Grange [firstname.lastname@example.org] of Penguin Random House South Africa for this review copy.