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Jacqui L'Ange

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Very short but Bloody Satisfied (review)


Bloody Satisfied – Short Sharp Stories

Edited by Joanne Hichens (Mercury)
Book thrill
“South Africa is very sexy place for crime fiction,” Deon Meyer declares in his introduction to Bloody Satisfied. But as the twenty-four authors collected here demonstrate, South Africa is also brutal, sneaky, venal, banal, complex, murderous, proud, paranoid, colourful, guilty, greedy, arrogant, and rather twisted. From Dawn Garisch’s “What To Do About Ricky”, a looping tale of self-deception, to T.O. Molefe’s dystopian “The King”, and through all the alarming plot twists and gory who-dunnits in between, this collection is guaranteed to leave readers entirely in tune with its title. – Jacqui L’Ange @jaxangel

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Michele Rowe’s ‘What Hidden Lies’ is The Next Big Thing


This ‘Next Big Thing’ guest post is by by the über-talented  Michele Rowe, who talks about her first novel…I love how this is becoming a regular feature on my BookSA blog page. More tags and previews at the end of this post.


Here’s Michele:


What is your working title of your book?

What Hidden Lies

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I heard an unsubstantiated rumour, and took to pondering how a moment of maliciousness could ruin someone’s life and even lead to murder.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s about a murder and investigation so it would be classified under crime fiction. I prefer to call it a mystery novel.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

What Hidden Lies is the first of a trilogy. I am finishing the second book for Penguin titled Hour of Darkness about a mother and daughter who disappear when the lights go out during Earth Hour. The third book centres around a teenage suicide pact and is called Before Her Time. All three books have individual stand alone investigations, linked by an overarching single narrative concerning the young detective Persy Jonas. The structure lends itself to a tv series rather than a movie. When I think of a cast I naturally imagine drawing from the extraordinary talent working in film and theatre in this country. But it would be up to the director to decide on the cast.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A detective hunts down her childhood sweetheart who she suspects of murder.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by a U.K based literary agent, and the book will be published by Penguin on June 3rd this year. I have also signed the rights to a German publisher.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’d really prefer not to answer that! Some writers can get out a draft in 6 weeks but I find writing a laborious and time consuming process.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t think of a similar book offhand. Only a small percentage of what I read is crime fiction.  I like classic American noir writers like Cornell Woolrich and Jim Thompson, and enjoy South African crime fiction because it’s new and fresh and there’s an energy to it. The Scottish crime writers are always interesting. I read everything put out by the grande dames of female mystery, writers like Ruth Rendell and PD. James. Their output is astonishing, both still writing strongly into late age, and they have a great sense of plot and social milieu. But Patricia Highsmith is the mystery and suspense writer I most admire. That does not answer the question except to say that perhaps these writers influence how I approach the genre.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Noordhoek inspired me. And a series of interviews I conducted with detectives and a criminal psychologist when researching a television  documentary.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Maybe because I am a screenwriter, What Hidden Lies has interlinking narratives and characters similar in structure to a tv series. It’s as much a study of a place and milieu as a crime novel, although I hope it also delivers on the expectations of the genre. The book has been well received by publishers and agents and recognised by a Dagger Award, but the acid test will be how readers receive it. I recently joined a couple of book clubs for the first time. It was horribly sobering to hear books being casually savaged in someone’s sitting room, and imagining mine suffering the same fate.  Crime readers are unforgiving because they know all the tricks. There’s very little new in the genre, so it’s all in the telling.


Michele is passing the baton on to Richard Beynon, Joanne Hichens and Melissa Madore.  Jump to their pages to see their Next Big Thing posts in about a week’s time. And come back here to read Anne Rogers’ post in a few days…

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Exhume the Past: A Review of Margie Orford’s Gallows Hill

Gallows HillMargie Orford has again delivered a tightly plotted thriller with solid political credentials.

It’s got the snappy dialogue and the meticulous forensic detail you’ve come to expect from a Clare Hart thriller. But it’s also got something different.

Instead of a woman or a child in mortal danger with a relentlessly ticking clock, we have a body that’s been dead for 23 years – a cold case that connects apartheid horrors to present-day political profligacy.

The body is unearthed at Gallows Hill, near the Green Point traffic centre, where Cape Town’s notorious gibbets once stood. Two centuries ago the unfortunates hanged there were left to sink into the soft sands beneath the gallows, forgotten and untended.

Their bones are exposed when excavation begins for a development near the Waterfront.

The 200-year-old remains, possibly those of slaves, ignite imagination – and deep-rooted grievances. Fat cats’ luxury apartments are put on hold, pending due process.

Clare is a film-maker and investigative profiler. She is ostensibly on site to film a documentary on slavery. But a newer body is different; the young woman crammed into a tiny coffin under a concrete foundation slab is a case for police, not anthropologists.

Clare believes she can piece together the woman’s past. She can’t know that this wooden box will unleash more troubles than Pandora’s box. Her search will lead from the world of rarefied high art to that scarcely redeemed low life.

And to a confrontation with “Hond”, a Cape Flats gangster cleaned up just enough to associate with tenderpreneurs.

But the real villain is the system that has failed its people.

Between February 1988 and February this year, South Africa has swung on a pendulum from repressive apartheid regime through land of hopeful freedom.

Now it’s snagged on a knot of crime, corruption and cronyism.

There is a weary cynicism in the way all the principals regard the state of their nation. Top cop (and Hart’s chief love interest) Riedwaan Faizal bemoans a South Africa where you watch your taxes being squandered, but are lucky to have a job that earns enough to pay tax.

He sends his partner in crime-fighting, Rita Mkhize, to Mpumalanga, where violence and tragedy await.

Clare and Riedwaan’s relationship has deepened, but is complicated by spectres from the past; not least the re-emergence of Clare’s old flame, cameraman Pedro da Silva.

Orford has a knack for revealing hidden parts of Cape Town – not just the criminal underbelly, but raw, elemental places under its physical surface. In Like Clockwork it was the cavernous culverts under Sea Point’s promenade; in this fourth book it is a dank dungeon under the Slave Lodge, once the Women’s Quarters, where company slaves were kept overnight, and where the sea still reaches up right under Adderley Street.

The author treats her characters like a lepidopterist pins specimens to a board – precisely, delicately.

Still, the real good guys emerge quietly; they are the indigent, the homeless, the voiceless. They are the bergies sharing a papsak on a bench outside parliament. They represent another kind of struggle survivor in a book that spans the spectrum between right and wrong

Book details

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