Book review – Cobra: Griessel is back

2014-09-10 08:00

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Cobra by Deon Meyer

Hodder & Stoughton

352 pages

R199 from

Deon Meyer’s Cobra takes us at breakneck speed on a blood-splattered journey through the Cape winelands, Bellville, the Bo-Kaap and the V&A Waterfront.

Benny Griessel, who Meyer fans will know from previous books, is the key player in an investigation into numerous violent deaths, cobra-engraved bullet casings, a mysterious missing British national and an endearing pickpocket.

Griessel is the flawed policeman struggling to come to terms with his apartheid past, his drinking problem and his inability to meet his girlfriend’s sexual demands.

But it is the other characters who steal the show.

One of them is pickpocket Tyrone Kleinbooi, who is unwittingly drawn into a world of international espionage Captain Mbali Kaleni, who is overweight and slow, but an excellent policewoman, is another.

The stereotypical and rather shallow characters are the biggest disappointment in an otherwise exciting book.

For example, Griessel is the bad whitey now seeing the light. Kleinbooi is the coloured thief who must be forgiven because he is poor.

Kaleni is one-dimensional and patronised?–?behind her KFC-eating facade is a competent policewoman. But she is the character through whom Meyer explores some of the moral issues we face in South Africa.

The best part of the book is that it is so cinematic. This comes as no surprise because Meyer also writes screenplays.

He has clearly hit on a winning formula. His books are big hits and he has managed to garner an international readership, which is no mean feat for a local author.

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