A predictable, disappointing read

2011-02-16 00:00

THE larger-than-life fraudster Brett Kebble has spawned a thousand theories about his death, a botched trial, and an excellent investigative book by Barry Sargent. Now comes a sort of a novel whose hero’s life follows the same trajectory as that of Kebble.

Since the outcome of the story is already known, there’s not much more to say. The eponymous hero grows up in a working-class home on the Reef, does well at school and goes on to do law at Wits. He graduates and gets in bed with some corporate crooks, and one thing leads to another and bang.

One guesses that the author has taken his half-written memoirs off the shelf, fictionalised aspects of his life to fit the Kebble story, and found a tame publisher to print the result.

Smith’s depiction of student politics in the 80s, recalling the names of some prominent white activists in particular, has the authenticity of direct experience and has some nostalgic value. He’s also strong, because of his legal background, when describing how the fraudulent house of cards is built up, even if one’s eyes glaze over at some of the detail.

But beyond these aspects there is little to redeem Mettle, and especially not the writing. The odd chapters on South African history are particularly grating for a local audience, adding nothing to the story and appearing to be aimed at nothing more than puffing up a flimsy story into something grander.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.