I'm number 460 on the waiting list for Michael Connelly's new book, The Fifth Witness, and there are still 25 people on the list ahead of me for the new Inspector Ian Rutledge book by Charles Todd. What do I read while I wait? I've got a book for you! A book of mystery, corruption, politics and for all you Ian Rutledge fans, a police detective who hears voices in his head. A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn is set in a small town in 1950s South Africa.
New stringent apartheid laws have been enacted and racial tension is high. A white Afrikaner policeman, Captain Pretorius, has been found floating in a river with a bullet in his head. Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is sent to investigate and soon discovers the many layers of secrets surrounding this murder. Cooper soon becomes the adversary of the Pretorius family, the local police and the Security Branch of the South African government. His only allies are also men of secrets, the Zulu policeman, Samuel Shabalala and the “the old Jew” Zweigman. Can Cooper trust these men? As Shabalala says, “To live in this country a man, he must be a liar. You tell the truth – they break you.”
Malla Nunn is an award winning Australian film maker with family ties to South Africa. Each scene is carefully crafted with a film-maker’s eye. Beautifully written with memorable characters and vivid descriptions of the South African veld, this book is definitely worth reading while you wait.