Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Beautiful Place to Die

Image sourced from here
I grew up like so many children of the 80s and 90s knowing about apartheid. I knew that in South Africa black and white people were separated, and black people were denied things, and rights, and opportunities that white people had. I also remember it ending, and Nelson Mandela becoming President, lots of happy people and dancing.

So I've always had the knowledge of apartheid. But I don't think I have ever really had an understanding of apartheid. I mean, it's pretty straightforward, right? White and black? I never considered the tiering between Afrikaans and English, or Jews, or Indians, or mixed race, etc. This book explores all of this and some. My 7 year old knowledge was blown out of the water and highlighted as what it obviously was, incredibly naive and simplistic. But until I had to really think about it, I really never realised how simplistic I assumed it was.

Detective Emmanuel Cooper is a white, English police officer. He is called out to a small town on the border with Mozambique. He arrives at the murder scene of the Afrikaan police captain, who seems to pretty much rule the town with his pack of sons. In an incredibly volatile situation already, Detective Cooper also has to work with officers from the country's Intelligence Agency who have taken over the investigation, while also enforcing the new apartheid policy and stamping out communism.

It's very well written. Both the story itself and the writing as a whole. I didn't think the story would be able to string itself out for the whole book, but she did it well. I thought I had the culprit picked early, but that got flipped on it's head, which I love. The writing of the landscape and the area was by someone who obviously loves the land, and made it sound incredibly beautiful, even in its barrenness.

She also handled the political landscape very well, I was impressed. There was obviously a point of view in the book, but it never felt heavy handed. I definitely would recommend, it's well worth the read.

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