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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Launch: Heist! by Anneliese Burgess (30 May)

‘With meticulous journalism and at a cracking pace, Burgess exposes the inner mechanics of cash heists and the complicity of police officers …’ – Mandy Wiener, author of Ministry of Crime

From the horror of the 2006 Villa Nora heist – in which four security guards were burnt alive in their armoured vehicle after a ferocious fight-back against highly trained mercenaries – to the 2014 robbery of a cash centre in Witbank, where a gang made off with almost R104 million after impersonating police officers, Heist! is an impeccably researched exposé of an endemic crime phenomenon that some analysts warn could bring South Africa to its knees.

Using the information gleaned from thousands of pages of court documents and press reports, as well as interviews with police officers, crime intelligence agents, prosecutors, defence lawyers, researchers, journalists, security guards and the criminals themselves, Heist! provides unprecedented insight into a crime that increased by a staggering 49 per cent in the first eight months of 2017 alone.

As informative and thought-provoking as it is distressing, this is a book by an investigative journalist at the top of her game.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 30 May 2018
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Rd, Melville, Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Karyn Maughan
  • RSVP:

    Book Details

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Tension, temptation and secrets in François Bloemhof’s English debut, Double Echo (Plus: Read an extract)

Double EchoDoodskootPenguin Books presents seasoned Afrikaans thriller writer François Bloemhof’s English debut, Double Echo, also available in Afrikaans as Doodskoot:

Something’s gone sour in the Winelands …

Ex-cop Paul Mullan has a lot more baggage than the rucksack he’s carrying across the country. He’s trying to get away from that night, that hour when life as he knew it came to an end.

When Paul helps wealthy businessman Bernard Russell to change his car’s burst tyre near Riebeek-Kasteel in the pouring rain, Russell offers him shelter.

But the opulent wine estate Journey’s End is no safe haven, and Paul soon senses that his life is about to resemble one of those old black-and-white movies: he is the fallible hero, a young woman in Russell’s household the scheming femme fatale, and the outcome may be deadly.

Filled with tension, temptation, secrets and sleight of hand, Double Echo is seasoned Afrikaans thriller writer François Bloemhof’s exhilarating English debut.

About the author

François Bloemhof has had a prolific career, having written for adults, teenagers and children for more than 25 years. He has received numerous awards, including De Kat, FNB, ATKV, Kagiso and Sanlam prizes.

His is also a career of firsts: he wrote the first novel to be published with an original CD soundtrack composed by the author, the first book with its own computer game and the first ever e-book in Afrikaans. He has also produced work for film, TV, the stage and radio. He is a full-time writer when not attending to four demanding cats. Double Echo is his 24th novel for adults.

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Read an extract from this thrilling novel (find the Afrikaans excerpt here):

Double Echo by François Bloemhof by Books LIVE on Scribd

Book details

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A very South African book: Irna van Zyl launches her new crime novel Moordvis at Love Books

Launch of Irna van Zyl's Moordvis/Dead in the Water
Dead in the WaterMoordvis

Irna van Zyl launched her new crime novel Moordvis (published simultaneously in English as Dead in the Water) at Love Books in Melville, Johannesburg recently.

Van Zyl was joined onstage by Ruda Landman, former presenter of investigative television programme Carte Blanche.

Rather than just telling a story, Van Zyl says her latest book is also an effort to break prevalent South African stereotypes.

“Some of the heroes are not white,” she said when asked whether white people saw the issue of crime as a black problem.

Van Zyl tied the problem to both races. Her explanation being that while criminals can be black, behind them might be white people.

Launch of Irna van Zyl's Moordvis/Dead in the Water

By using Storm van der Merwe as her female protagonist in her book, Van Zyl has broken away from the prevalent crime novel tradition of using males as lead detectives.

But, why a crime novel when we are any bombarded with crime news on daily basis? And why crime as a genre for a writer who has had more experience running media companies and working as editor for some well-known South African media publications? These were some of the questions Van Zyl wrestled with that night.

“Crime reading is a form of escapism,” Van Zyl said.

Launch of Irna van Zyl's Moordvis/Dead in the Water

Another topic Van Zyl commented on was the issue of low book sales in South Africa compared to overseas markets, like the United States, for example. While the Afrikaans market reported low sales, “South African English books suffer even more,” said Van Zyl.

Van Zyl, who set the book in a fictitious town of Grootbaai, described the book as “very South African”.

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Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the event:

Book details

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South African crime writer to team up with thriller superstar James Patterson

BreathlessSwitchPale HorsesCross JusticeTruth or DieHope to Die


South African crime writer Jassy Mackenzie will contribute a book to James Patterson’s imprint BookShots.

Patterson, who is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time, with sales in excess of 325 million copies worldwide, will be writing, collaborating on, or personally curating every title published by the new imprint.

BookShots, which will produce page-turning, novella-length stories, aims to change the way readers consume books.

“BookShots are designed to help people fit reading into their busy lives,” Patterson says. “They’re stories that you can devour in an hour or two, and that will keep you engaged throughout. People will want to pick one of these up because they won’t be intimidated by the length, or ever bored by the plot.”

Each title will be under 150 pages, competitively priced at R59.95, and available in a new compact paperback format, as ebooks and in audio.

Mackenzie is the author of five thrillers, all published in South Africa by Umuzi, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Her other books include Folly, Switch and Breathless. She is published in the United States and in Germany, and has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and an International Thriller Award.

Mackenzie’s BookShot will be titled 26 Degrees South and is set in Johannesburg, where she lives. A publication date has yet to be fixed.

Book details

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Kom vier die bekendstelling van Tuisland deur Karin Brynard by Love Books

Kom vier die bekendstelling van Tuisland deur Karin Brynard by Love Books

TuislandPenguin Random House en Love Books nooi u hartlik uit na die bekendstelling van Tuisland deur Karin Brynard.

Brynard sal in gesprek wees met Mariëtta Kruger.

Moenie dit misloop nie!



  • Datum: Donderdag, 18 Augustus 2016
  • Tyd: 6:30 PM vir 7:00 PM
  • Plek: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Padkaart
  • Gespreksgenoot: Marietta Kruger
  • Verversings: Ligte verversings en wyn sal bedien word
  • RSVP: 011 327 3550,


» read article

Nuut: Moordvis deur Irna van Zyl en Amatola deur Piet van Rooyen (Plus: wen!)

Penguin stel bekend twee nuwe, angswekkende misdaadverhale deur skrywers Irna van Zyl en Piet van Rooyen:


MoordvisDead in the Water’n Grieselige gesig begroet speuradjudant Storm van der Merwe en haar hond op Grootbaai se strand: die lyk van ’n jong joernalis – sonder haar arm.

Vir dié kusdorpie se inwoners is dit slegte nuus; lyke wat rondlê kan die haaiduikbedryf waarvoor Grootbaai beroemd is, erge skade berokken.

Storm se hande jeuk om die saak te ondersoek, maar sy is vir eers ingeperk tot saai kantoorwerk. Boonop het sy nie ’n ryding nie nadat ’n inwoner – ’n aantreklike een daarby – met sy insleepwa in haar Volla vasgejaag het.

Intussen sukkel Storm se onmoontlike oudkollega, Andreas Moerdyk, om te fokus terwyl hy ondersoek instel na die dood van ’n bekende Springbokstut wie se motor op die N1 deur ’n soortgelyke trok getref is.

Het Storm se ongeluk iets met die rugbyspeler se noodlottige botsing te doen? En hoe steek die joernalis se dood en die stories oor perlemoenstropery op Grootbaai in mekaar?

Terwyl Storm antwoorde op dié tergende vrae soek, raak dinge vir haar gevaarliker as ’n haaihokduik – sonder die hok. Moordvis is ook in Engels beskikbaar as Dead in the Water.

Oor die outeur

Irna van Zyl, wat ’n roemryke loopbaan van 30 jaar in die media gehad het, onder meer as redakteur van De Kat en Insig, het onlangs uitgetree as ’n uitvoerende direkteur van New Media Publishing, ’n maatskappy waarvan sy medestigter was en uitgewer van onder meer Woolworths Taste, Visi, Golf Digest, Finweek en Eat Out. As skrywer het sy reeds in 1995 met ’n versameling kortverhale, Grootmensspeletjies, gedebuteer.


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AmatolaIn die afgeleë Sneeuberge van die Oos-Kaap soek ’n groep argeoloë onder leiding van die nimlike professor Attie Vermaak na ’n reeks rotstekeninge: ’n befaamde oorlogstafereel van ruiters en vlugtendes. Groot is hul vreugde toe hulle dié kunswerk na ’n uitmergelende soektog vind.

Hulle blydskap is egter van korte duur: ’n gevaarlike groep drosters oorrompel hulle en neem hulle gevange. Onder angswekkende omstandighede deel ekspedisie- en bendelede dieselfde kampeerplek terwyl die bendekaptein wag op verslag deur twee verspieders wat hy na die buitewêreld stuur om ’n losprys te eis.

Amatola is Van Rooyen op sy beste.

Oor die outeur

Piet van Rooyen is die skrywer van sewe romans en vier poësiebundels. Sy eerste roman, Die spoorsnyer, wen die Tafelberg/Sanlam/De Kat-romankompetisiein 1993. Hy ontvang hiervoor ook die CNA-prys vir ’n debuutroman. Die olifantjagters verskyn in 1997 en dié roman ontvang in 1998 die M-Net-prys. Ander romans sluit in Gif (2001), Die brandende man (2002), Akwarius (2005), Etosha (2010) en Rodriguez (2012). Hy is tans professor in politieke wetenskap aan die Universiteit van Namibië.


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Vyf gelukkige lesers kan elkeen ’n kopie van Amatola en Moordvis wen. Skryf in deur die aanlynkompetisievorm in te vul voor 24 Julie 2016.


» read article

Kom vier die bekendstelling van Tuisland by Karin Brynard

Uitnodiging na die bekendstelling van Tuisland


TuislandPenguin Random House nooi u hartlik uit na die boekbekendstelling van Tuisland deur Karin Brynard.

Brynard sal in gesprek wees met Hanlie Retief, met spesiale gaskunstenaar Laurinda Hofmeyr.

Moenie dit misloop nie!


  • Datum: Dinsdag, 21 Junie 2016
  • Tyd: 6:30 PM vir 7:00 PM
  • Plek: Die Boer
    6 Chenowethstraat
    Durbanville | Padkaart
  • Verversings: Wyn en versnaperings sal bedien word
  • RSVP: Lorienne Brown,, 011 327 3550


» read article

Lees ’n uittreksel uit Karin Brynard se nuwe roman, Tuisland

TuislandTuisland deur Karin Brynard is binnekort beskikbaar en word uitgegee deur Penguin:

Kaptein Albertus Beeslaar het genoeg gehad van die platteland. Hy het pas sy bedanking ingedien, maar word vir een laaste sending die Kalahari in gestuur. Die dood van ’n San-leier en klagtes van polisiegeweld word sy missie.

Op die rand van die Kgalagadi-oorgrenspark, waar die laaste afstammelinge van die Kalahari-San in ’n wildernis van sand en Kalahari-leeus woon, loop hy hom in ’n bynes vas. Die brutale aanval op ’n Duitse toeris ontketen ’n rits gebeure wat ’n multimiljoenrandse projek vir die San kan verongeluk.

En dan val die volgende dooie. Beeslaar kry ’n nuwe kollega, kolonel Koekoes Mentoor, ’n hardekwas rissiepit wat saam met hom deur ’n doolhof van politiek, mites en moord moet stap.

Gelyktydig moet Kytie Rooi, skoonmaakster by ’n luukse gastehuis op Upington, die Kalahari in vlug met ’n vreemde straatkindjie aan die hand.

Met die romans Plaasmoord en Onse vaders het Karin Brynard haar reputasie as een van Suid-Afrika se gewildste misdaadskrywers gevestig. In haar derde roman kom haar karakters te staan voor groter uitdagings as ooit te vore.

Oor die outeur

Karin Brynard is in Koffiefontein in die Vrystaat gebore en het aan die Universiteit van Pretoria gestudeer. As politieke verslaggewer van Rapport het sy die vryheidstryd en die vrylating van Nelson Mandela gedek. Sy was ook adjunkredakteur van Insig. Haar debuutroman, Plaasmoord, is bekroon met die Universiteit van Johannesburg-debuutprys asook die M-Net-boekprys in die filmkategorie.

* * * * *

Lees ‘n uittreksel uit hierdie nuwe roman:

Beeslaar gaan buite toe vir vars lug en stilte. Die kroeg raas te veel, doefdoef-musiek en dronkpraatjies.

Daar’s wolke aan’t kom, sien hy, die stormweer van Upington wat hom toe tóg agterhaal het. Dis drukkend en stil buite, glimmerings van weerlig wat kort-kort die horison verlig. Etlike sekondes later kom die dowwe gerammel agterna.

Gramstorig en beneuk, dink hy. Join the club, manne, veral na ‘n dag soos vandag.

Sy voete is bliksems seer. En hy’t ‘n slegte voorgevoel aan hom: impending doom. Die vinnige “joppie” vir die Moegel is besig om bagasie op te tel. Hy moes vanaand in Johannesburg gewees het. In die gastehuis in Melville met ‘n lang drankie in die hand, besig om na môre se semiverjaardagpartytjie uit te sien.

Hy’t nog nie die teddiebeer toegedraai nie, onthou hy skielik. Was nog van plan om iewers geskenkpapier te koop.

Hy sug en drink ‘n sluk bier. Vir die eerste keer in ‘n lang tyd mis hy ‘n sigaret. Enigiets om die kak smaak van die dag se gesukkel uit sy mond te kry.

Dit moes verdomp die begin van sy nuwe lewe gewees het. Die kans om ‘n gesin te bou.

‘n Gesin. Herre, hy durf nie eens die woord uiter nie. En ‘n kind, sy eie. Dit maak soveel onbekende emosies by hom los. Vreemde gevoelens: Een oomblik ‘n gloed van geluk, jou hart swel soos ‘n rugbybal. Die volgende is dit yskoue angs. Oor jy skielik iets het wat saak maak. Iets wat jou aan die lewe anker, ‘n vastigheid in ‘n waansinnige wêreld.

Hy skud sy kop in die donker. Genoeg van die morbiede gebroei. Hy vat die laaste sluk van sy Windhoek Lager. Vanaand wil hy hom kruppel drink. Na ‘n dag soos vandag verdien hy dit, verdomp. En dit bly die beste purgasie vir ‘n kop vol kak. Dié bier was net foreplay. Hierna is die speletjies verby: dubbels van elke soort brandewyn in die hotel se kroeg.

Dit sal help opmaak vir die tos situasie waarin hy hom vanaand bevind: halfpad uit die polisie, halfpad in ‘n nuwe job in. Hy wás halfpad in by Gerda, die liefde van sy lewe. Maar na vandag is hy vir seker weer uit. Was halfpad op pad Johannesburg toe, maar sit pens en pootjies in die fokken Kalahari. Waar dit sweersekerlik nie makliker gaan raak nie. Die gesprek in die kroeg is klaar ‘n rigtingwyser – klomp ouens met waarheidwater agter die blad wat onwetend ou Kappies de Vos se gat toestop.

Miskien nie genoeg bewyse vir ‘n regter nie, maar beslis ‘n aanduiding van hoe die wind hier waai: Texas Ranger gekruis met Buffalo Bill. Miskien moet hy eers vir Gerda bel voor hy aan die drink raak. Aan die ander kant – dalk moet hy eers ‘n moedskepdop drink. Dalk moet hy glad nie bel nie. Sy slaap tien teen een al.

Hy is op die punt om weer in te gaan toe hy ‘n voertuig met gedompte ligte gewaar wat stadig uit Upington se rigting aangery kom. Dis ‘n groot masjien, 8 silinder 4.5-liter diesel met ‘n luukse, sysagte spin. Die pad is naby genoeg, omtrent so 200 meter van die lodge se stoep waar hy staan. Hy probeer om te sien watse voertuig dit is, maar hy kan nie, dis net te donker. Hy kyk hoe dit stadig voor die lodge verby drentel.

Die opmerking in die kroeg, vroeër, oor De Vos en die “veldkabouters” en “hasejag” kom skielik by hom op. Hy skud dit uit sy kop. “Jy’t nog drank nodig, Beeslaar, die son het jou brein gebraai,” mompel hy vir homself en tel sy leë glas op om in te gaan.

Dan hoor hy die skoot.

Hy sit die glas neer. Die voertuig trek met skreeuende bande weg, hoofligte aan, soekligte op die dak wat die wêreld verhelder.

Vir ‘n kort oomblik pen dit ‘n mansfiguur vas, ‘n warreling klere en pompende arms oor die teerpad wat vinnig weer in die lang gras aan die oorkant van die pad verdwyn. Beeslaar sit instinktief sy hand op sy pistoolheup. Hou dit daar, gereed, terwyl hy stip na die pad staar. Die groot kar jaag tot waar die figuur verdwyn het, rem hard en swenk van die pad af agter die hardloper aan. Voor ‘n hoë ogiesdraadheining stop dit in ‘n wolk stof. Daar’s ‘n dubbele hek, maar dis toe. Een van die deure gaan oop en ‘n man vlieg uit, hardloop na die hek toe en maak dit oop.

Die kragtige enjin dreun en die voertuig skiet deur, sy ligte val op ‘n klein houthuisie. Beide huisie en kar verdwyn in die groot bolle stof. Dan klap daar nog ‘n skoot en van iewers uit die stof en die donker is daar dowwe uitroepe.

En dan nóg ‘n skoot.

Beeslaar hardloop, blindelings. Al met die gruispad van die lodge af tot by die teerpad. Hy’s bewus van sy stukkende voete, maar dis nou minder belangrik.

Oorkant die pad is die sand dik en ongelyk, maak dit moeilik om in die donker regop te bly. Dan is hy om die huisie, maar loop hom byna disnis teen ‘n stewige kêrel met ‘n flits in die hand. Die flits tref hom hard teen die kop.

Hy voel hoe die nag om hom kantel, ‘n skerp pyn wat deur sy skedel bars. Hy steier, probeer sy balans hou, maar sy bene swik en hy sak op sy knieë neer.

“Polisie,” probeer hy sê, maar hy’s nie seker of die woorde by sy mond uitkom nie. Dit voel of daar nie lug in sy longe is nie.

“Wat de hel …” sê die vent met die flits, skyn dit vol op Beeslaar se gesig.

Hy lig sy een hand om sy oë af te skerm.

“Hô,” roep die flitsman. “Stadig, stadig. En laat los jou wapen. Lós!”

Beeslaar maak sy hand oop, voel hoe die wapen hardhandig gegryp word. “Wag,” probeer hy prewel. Sy mond is kurkdroog en sy tong dom. “Pol-polisie …” Hy kyk op, maar die flits verblind hom. Agtertoe sien hy die voertuig rooi briek.

“Dáár’s hy!” roep iemand uit. “Oor die duin! Oor die duin! Daai kant toe! Rý, ry, ry! Tebogo! Ons gaan hom fokken verloor!”

Die enjin brul woedend. Maar ruk dan dood. “Wat fokken máák jy, man! Ry!”

Die flits swaai weg uit Beeslaar se gesig en terug in die rigting van die voertuig. Dis ‘n moerse groot Land Cruiser, sien hy, met sy neus in ‘n sandduin en fonteine sand wat agter sy wiele opstaan.

Beeslaar besluit hy moet nóú iets doen, terwyl sy aanvaller se aandag elders is. Hy beur orent, so flink as wat sy bene hom toelaat, en stamp sy aanvaller hard in die sy. Die man roep uit en strompel eenkant toe, verloor sy balans en sak op sy hurke. Beeslaar laat nie op hom wag nie en hy mik ‘n skop na die man se ribbes.

“Ug,” sê die man en syg op die sand neer. Beeslaar gryp hom voor die bors en slaan hom met die hakskeen van sy hand vol op die neus. Dis nie ‘n harde hou nie, maar hard genoeg dat die kêrel skree en na sy gesig gryp.

“Bliksem,” sê Beeslaar uitasem en laat val hom. Hy tel die man se flits op en lig op die sand rond tot hy sy pistool half onder die man se lyf sien uitsteek. Hy raap dit vinnig op en skyn dan die flits op die Cruiser teen die duin. Die bestuurder, sien hy, probeer steeds om die spulletjie aan die gang te kry, maar die loodswaar voertuig versit geen tree nie.

Beeslaar bring die lig terug na die vent op die grond. “Polisie,” sê hy. “Wat’s jou naam? Op wie skiet julle?”

Die kêrel kreun en Beeslaar buk by hom. Hy ruik drank.

Die neus lyk nie gebreek nie, maar hy’s goed stukkend, bloed stroom oor die lip. Hy deursoek die man vlugtig, voel nie ‘n wapen nie. Hy maak sy beursie oop en ontdek sy polisiekaart.


Hy swaai die flits weer na die Cruiser toe. Hy sien ‘n dowwe figuur voor die voertuig wat aanwysings vir die bestuurder binne-in uitroep. Bo teen die duin is iemand met ‘n geweer in die hand besig om deur die los sand na bo te sukkel. Beeslaar hoor hom uitroep, maar kan nie hoor wat hy sê nie. Dan raak hy weg in die donker.

En die Cruiser se enjin vrek wéér.

“Lê,” sê Beeslaar vir die ou hier by hom op die grond.

“Jy’t my flippen neus gebreek,” kerm hy. “Ek gaan jou aankla!”

“Jy en jou antie,” sê Beeslaar. “Wat’s jou naam? En op wie skiet julle?”

“Kaptein De Vos gaan jou dik donner, bliks -”

“Op wié skiet julle?”

” ‘n Fokken verdagte, wat anders!”

Dan klink daar nog ‘n skoot op, weergalm in die stilte.

Beeslaar begin hardloop. “Kry back up,” skree hy oor sy skouer. “Nog mense!” Die kêrel skel iets agterna, maar hy hoor skaars.

Die Cruiser is leeg, sien hy toe hy nader kom. Hy lig met die flits op die kruin van die duin langs, sien waar die ou met die geweer oor is. Die sand is te los daar, hy weet hy gaan sukkel. Regs van die voertuig lyk dit meer kompak. Hy bêre die pistool en begin haastig teen die duin optrap. Die sand is diep. Plek-plek sak hy tot oor sy enkels weg.

Bo gekom, lig hy op en af in die duinstraat aan die ander kant. Hy sien spore – te veel. Maar oor die volgende duin sien hy ‘n lig.

Hy is bereid om geld te wed dat die een met die geweer De Vos self is. Agter wie is hy aan? Die inbreker van Askham?


Bad luck en trouble kwadraat. Hoe de fok het jy hier beland, Beeslaar?

Maar daar’s nie tyd vir dink nie, want hy gewaar ‘n beweging op die oorkantste duin – ‘n man met sy rug na Beeslaar wat sy geweer op iets of iemand onder hom rig. Dan skiet hy. Die skoot weergalm in die duine in.

Beeslaar kom in beweging, hardloop met lang treë teen die styl duin af, oor die vaste sand onder in die duinvallei en weer op teen die oorkant. Hy is nét bo en gereed om oor die duin te gaan toe daar ‘n harde uitroep opklink. Hy val onmiddellik plat en skakel die flits af. Hy wil nie per ongeluk in daardie geweer se visier beland nie.

Vir ‘n rukkie bly hy lê, ore gespits. Dan loer hy versigtig oor die duin. Eers sien hy niks nie, maar dan is daar dowwe bewegings ondertoe. Hy skakel die flits aan, gooi die straal in daardie rigting.

Dis dan dat hy die stil liggaam van die polisieman gewaar. En die donker figuur wat vinnig van die toneel weghardloop. Met die geweer in sy hand.

Related stories:


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Michele Rowe Describes Hour of Darkness in 140 Characters and Takes a Writing Rorschach Test (Podcast)

Hour of DarknessJonathan Ancer’s AmaBookaBooka radio show caught up with Michéle Rowe at this year’s Open Book Festival to chat about her new book, Hour of Darkness.

Rowe starts off the episode by reading a passage from her book, which is set in the exclusive Constantia Valley outside Cape Town where a band of robbers see Earth Hour as the perfect chance to wreak havoc.

Ancer asked Rowe to describe her book in 140 characters. “It’s a murder mystery but it’s also a social investigation of character, landscape and the politics of Cape Town,” she said.

Ancer also asked Rowe to participate in the sound effects Rorschach test. He played a 30-second audio clip and Rowe had to make up a story about the sound on the spot.

Listen to the podcast:

Related links:


Book details

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A Killer Waits for the Lights to Go Out – Read an Extract from Hour of Darkness by Michele Rowe

Hour of DarknessHour of Darkness by Michéle Rowe is a spine-chilling thriller set in Cape Town in the context of Earth Hour.

Last time, we brought you an extract from Hour of Darkness which focused on a robbery in Clicks in the Constantia Village mall. In the second excerpt, we catch a glimpse of Fred Splinters, a cold-blooded killer who enjoys coming home to a serene domestic setting and where he can slip into his Woolworths robe.

In this chapter, Fred is sitting in his car, watching as all the houses, his own included, go dark as everyone in his cosy neighbourhood prepares for Earth Hour.


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Read Part 2 of the extract:

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28 March

Earth Hour

Fred sat in his car and watched the lights go off in the houses on the street. One by one. He checked his dashboard clock. Eight p.m. exactly. Then the light in his house went off. Natasha would take something like Earth Hour seriously. She’d got some weird ideas in her head. He didn’t mind. It was best to do what everyone else in this neighbourhood did, and not stand out in any way.

     The house looked unlived-in from the outside: a seventies, split-level affair with wood and slasto details. Only a rental, as impermanent as every other place Fred Splinters had occupied. He deserved something better by now. It gave him a sour taste in his mouth to think he might be a failure. It was not a good thought, not a helpful thought. Why had Natasha insisted on this area? She liked the ‘ordinariness’, she’d said, that she could walk to the shops. However, it was also close to Diep River Police Station, only four blocks away, which did not suit Fred at all. He preferred to give the law a wide berth. He clicked the gate remote. The metal gate shuddered, partially opened, and then stuck. It was just one of the many things about the dump that set his teeth on edge. It meant he had to get out of the car – a late-model Camry sedan (a deliberately unremarkable choice) – and shift the gate himself, giving it a little shove to dislodge it. Try as he might, he could never discover the exact place where it stuck. He’d tried everything: oiling it with 3-in-1, dismantling and reassembling it, checking the rails and runners. He didn’t want to call in a professional repairman – he never allowed workmen to snoop around at the house if he wasn’t there. He couldn’t trust Natasha not to draw attention to herself the minute his back was turned.

     He parked the car and switched off the lights and ignition, taking his time and gathering his thoughts. Unpleasant ones were preoccupying his mind at the moment. Natasha had been more nervous than usual lately. Jumpy almost, since they moved into the house.

     He had let himself in one day, when she was out, and gone through her things, finding nothing unusual apart from an old, chipped cup hidden at the back of the kitchen cupboard. Inside was an envelope, and inside that a key. A key for a post-office box he had no knowledge of. His first impulse had been to collect more information first, so that he was well armed beforehand. But the temptation to immediately confront Natasha with the evidence of her perfidy proved too tempting.

     ‘What’s this?’

     Natasha had stared at the key lying in the palm of his outstretched hand, then lowered her eyes. It gave him a thrill, the way she tried to hide her fear. She should be fucking scared. Fred had a nose for fear. He could smell it, like an animal scented danger.

     ‘Never seen it before,’ she lied, wiping her hair behind her ear. Another one of the nervous habits he’d tried to wean her off.

     She was a small woman, slightly built and narrow-hipped, and looked pretty good considering how rough she’d had it. Before Fred came to her rescue.

     He shoved it in her face, inches from her nose. ‘You’re telling me you’ve never seen this before?’

     Her dumb-animal headshake did nothing to reassure him. She wouldn’t be scared unless she had something to hide.

     So he had gone to the nearest post office, which was Plumstead, and tried all the boxes. Eventually, one had fitted. Box 1240. It was empty. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed. But the knowledge of it would serve as extra leverage against Natasha.

     He wouldn’t rock the boat for the moment. He must be patient with her, soothe her into letting her guard down, and then act.

     She would be getting nervous now, wondering what Fred was doing, waiting for him to get out of the car. She would time it so that she was opening the door for him as he came up the stairs from the garage. Fred liked to think she spent all day waiting for the moment when he came home. The least she could do when you thought about everything he had done for her. Saved her from the filth and poverty of life on the street. He shuddered at the thought of the diseases she might have been carrying. Fortunately, he had not defiled himself with her, or any other woman for that matter. He had never enjoyed intimacy. Killing was already a very intimate act, and he did more than enough of that.

     Fred’s domestic life was the only refuge he had from his demanding job. He liked to come home and let Natasha bring him a drink as he sat in his La-Z-Boy in his Woolworths robe, feet up, dstv on. She would have his meal ready and would sit next to him, ready to jump for whatever he wanted. Pondering her usual domestic acquiescence, Fred found it difficult to believe Natasha would actually hide anything from him. The thought of it was like a hot needle in his heart. Deep down, he clung to the hope that she was innocent.

     But Fred’s assessment of human beings was a cynical one. And nothing in his life had ever challenged that conclusion. Perhaps it was the nature of his work, but he found that people only truly responded to force. He did not necessarily enjoy exercising violence on others. It just happened to be what he did, was second nature to him. He never got emotional, or took it personally. That’s why he had a good reputation.

     He watched the flicker of candlelight warm the window of the living room. Then he got out of the car and went inside the house to where Natasha waited for him.

* * * * * * * *

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Extracted from Hour of Darkness by Michéle Rowe (Penguin)

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