Enthralling detective story

2010-12-29 00:00

IT’S 1953, Durban Harbour. Someone has slit the throat of Jolly Marks, a boy whose poor family eke out a humble existence among the squalor at the docks. Former detective Emmanuel Cooper stumbles across the freshly butchered body of the child and so begins his quest to uncover the truth about what really happened the night Jolly was murdered.

Let the Dead Lie is a whodunit in your own back yard, and recognising the familiar landmarks, is a distinct thrill. Malla Nunn scores big points with the way she evokes the atmosphere of the fifties in a country divided by its race laws and quivering at the ever-present danger of the communist.

Cooper himself is a likeable enigma; he grew up white but is later reclassified coloured and stripped of his detective-sergeant rank. His rancour with the regime and his own personal quest for meaning mould him into a cocky, yet insecure, character whose side you will choose as he sets about solving the boy’s murder and subsequently two more that are interwoven in the plot.

Will Cooper solve the crimes in his allotted time, to save his hide from jail or worse? Can he outwit the police bosses, eager to nail him to the wall? Will he find meaningful love? Can you keep up with him?

It’s a great book for crime-fiction fans.

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