Laugh-out-loud funny book, but with a thin plot

2010-09-22 00:00

THIS is the second outing for down-at-heel Cape Town lawyer Georgie Allen following his debut in Exhibit A, and while it might seem to fit neatly into the much trumpeted South African crime-fiction scene, Tooth and Nailed isn’t a straightforward genre thriller or whodunnit.

In fact there is little to thrill and what mystery there is unravels in an almost perfunctory manner. Lotz is more interested in her characters and Allen’s wry perspective is what drives the first-person narrative which, on occasion, is laugh-out-loud funny.

Allen’s life is falling apart (probably a permanent condition) and his client list (such as it is) isn’t helping. In between trying to give up smoking Allen is busy with a promiscuous literary professor in trouble, negotiating South Africa’s first gay divorce plus pursuing his own increasingly ill-advised computer-dating romance.

Matters take a more serious turn when Allen’s brother’s safari operation in Botswana looks set to turn pear-shaped after a child is attacked by a hyena and the parents get litigious. It sees Allen and his sidekick, a Scots advocate of assorted vile personal habits, take a trip to Botswana complete with a bizarre collection of luggage.

Lotz is good on local colour but on occasion labours the comic description — there’s also an infuriating small child and a dog.

She also needs to tighten up the crime-versus-comedy ratio and better integrate the laughs with the plot. Here the plot is an add-on that seems to disappear every now and then. That said, I’ll still be looking out for Allen’s next instalment.

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