Monday, September 15, 2014

Murder and Kidnapping in South Africa

Deon Meyer provides the reader with his ninth police procedural in "Cobra."

A famous English mathematician is kidnapped and his body guards killed in the picturesque Franschhoek wine valley of South Africa. The man was traveling under an alias and tried to keep his identity unknown. He has developed a formula that will make it more difficult for terrorists and secret agencies to hide their financial transactions.

When police arrive, the only apparent clue is the shell casings from the bullets. They are engraved in such a way that the police refer to the kidnapper/killer as the Cobra, a known assassin.

Through Meyer's writing we see the rivalry between the Hawks, members of SAPS (South African Police Service" and the SIS, the government security service. It is akin to the territorial rivalry between local municipalities and our government agencies of CIA and FBI.

Detective Benny Griessel leads the investigators with his colleagues. Benny is the central character along with Tyrone Kleinbooi, a 'coloured' pickpocket who is trying to pay for his sister's tuition at the university through his thievery. He's an interesting character as we see him plan for his needs and then steal what is necessary.

Meyer tells us about Benny's past fall into alcoholism but he has been sober for over 400 days and even helped his girlfriend overcome her difficulty with the same ailment.

We also see the tensions between white and black and the attitude many have where in the University they are teaching more English than Africanis.

The action is well done and when Tyrone picks the wrong person to rob and the Cobra wants it back, it gets personal and suspense mounts. Tyrone tells the Cobra off and tells him not to mess with his sister.

This is a very visual story with good action and good descriptions.

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