Cycle of revenge

2010-03-10 00:00

Killer Country

Mike Nicol

Umuzi

MIKE Nicol’s new crime thriller is the sequel to his earlier Payback, and the second in a projected trilogy ­concerning the doings of Mace ­Bishop and Pylon Buso, former Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) hard men of struggle days, sometime gunrunners, and now semi-upright citizens running a security company in Cape Town and looking after rich tourists.

Wherever Mace and Pylon go, the body count escalates. In their last outing, they were up against Pagad. This time the idea that they might go into the property-development business as a way of laundering some of their ill-gotten gains puts them head to head with Obed Chocho, a well-connected fat cat.

No matter that he is currently in jail, and the judge who put him there is also keen to consult Mace and ­Pylon for what on the surface seems to be a simple bit of security for his elderly father. You can bet on it that coincidence in the life of our heroes is never going to be just that. Add in a cool hit man with a taste for country music, and things get nasty. Very nasty.

Always lurking in the background is sinister attorney Sheemina February, she of the Captain Hook attributes. She has a history with Mace, and it is about to get a whole lot more complicated. She reckons she has reasons to hate him, ­although her feelings are not quite that simple. And by the end of the book, he is ­going to have even more reason to hate her.

Nicol is proving that hard-boiled, tough thrillers can be set, and set successfully, in South Africa. He is showing us a dangerous, lawless land where an awful lot of people have reasons to be seeking revenge and where laws are honoured in the breach.

There is nothing cosy or comfortable here, but this is a book that will grip you by some painful part of your anatomy and not let go until you have got to the end. Nicol leaves the readers wanting more: and leaves them uncertain as to whether the ending of his Revenge trilogy is going to be one that is easy to live with. Nicol’s South Africa is tough territory.

Margaret von Klemperer

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