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Sunday, 8 March 2015

‘A Dancer in The Dust’ by Thomas H Cook

Published by Head of Zeus,
20 November 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-7840-8165-2

I've just reluctantly come to the end of this magnificently-written novel.  It is one of those few books which come my way that in order not to finish too soon, I have to read in short bursts so as to savour the gloriously lyrical writing.  It is set in Lubanda, one of those sad African countries where a series of maniacal psychopathic despots have held sway for long enough to bring a rich and fruitful land to despair. 

The nature of its dominant character, the courageously stubborn Martine, is beautifully realized.  Although she is a white woman farmer, she insists that she is a Lubandan despite the efforts of those around her to deny this, and refuses to be driven from her farm.  Cook's ability to convey doom and menace in the midst of a lush and beautifully-realised African country is outstanding, as is his lyrical, elegiac style. The story is related by a New Yorker who has been in love with Martine for years, and tells of his  desperate efforts tpersuade her to leave Lubanda before it is too late.

This is a  frightening novel, and  Cook manages to maintain the tension almost to the very last page.  I cannot praise this piece of crime fiction highly enough.  Absolutely brilliant and not to be missed.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Thomas H Cook  is the author of eighteen books, including two works of true crime. His novels have been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity Award and the Dashiell Hammett Prize. The Chatham School Affair won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel in 1996. His true crime book, Blood Echoes, was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1992, and his story "Fatherhood" won the Herodotus Prize in 1998 and was included in Best Mystery Stories of 1998. His works have been translated into fifteen languages.

Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford.  She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series.  She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent.   Nominated for the CWA short story award.  Nominated for the RNA's award. 

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