As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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by Melville House UK, 21 July 2016. ISBN: 978-1-61219-538-4 (HB)
A century ago, in South Africa, a
little girl was rescued from an experiment conducted by a doctor at a British
concentration camp on Boer prisoners. Now, a disgraced police constable is
reassigned to a quiet township, where she discovers the body of a young woman,
burned beyond recognition. The crime will lead her into the story of her
country’s violent past... which includes her father, a high-ranking police
official under the apartheid regime.
‘author quotes’ on this novel are both from Audrey Niffenegger, and you can see
why: like The Time Traveller’s Wife,
this story moves from head to head, and from present to past. It begins with
introducing Constable Alet Berg, a bolshie high-flyer who made it into the elite
Special Task Force before being demoted for an affair with her superior, Theo –
a highly-charged relationship which has sparks flying later in the book. Now,
she’s in the town of Unie, filled with white farmers who resent the ANC and
their new black rulers. After the finding of the body, we return to the past,
and see the story of the child Anna, made homeless by British reprisals against
the Boers, abused in the concentration camp, and then experimented on – it will
be some time through the story before we find out what exactly was done. The
narrative then moves between present and past, taking us through the history of
the black struggle for freedom in South Africa, and the part played in it by
the key individuals in the story: Anna’s child, Tessa, and her half-brother
Philip, who becomes a lawyer; Tessa’s foster-brother, Jakob, a freedom-fighter;
Tessa’s obsessive fellow camp-survivor, Ben, and his young military underling,
Adriaan Berg – Alet’s father. The country and the events are vividly described,
and Alet’s impulsive behaviour balances the modern sections between PP and PI
as she goes off-line again. I found the background really interesting, and the
modern plot was well worked-out – it was satisfying gradually fitting the
pieces together between past and present, and the novel ended with a
compellingly-written cross between a detective novel, science fantasy, and a
history of the last century in South Africa. Recommended.
Michelle Pretorius was born and raised in South Africa.
Michelle received a B.A. at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. She
has lived in London, New York, and the Midwest and holds an MFA in Fiction
Writing from Columbia College Chicago. She is currently a doctoral student in
creative writing at Ohio University.
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a
newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's
scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a
qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published
plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's
suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own
8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.Marsali also does a regular monthly column
for the Mystery People e-zine.