Book: Solace by Andrew Brown

Rating: 3/5

The body of a Muslim boy is found in a synagogue in Sea Point, Cape Town, and at first glance it looks like a ritual sacrifice. The news of the murder spreads quickly and Islamist agitators use it to inflame racial and religious tensions in Cape Town.

There’s talk that equally hard-line members of the Jewish community are just itching to violently defend their places of worship.

Inspector Eberard Februarie is tasked with solving the case and soon establishes the boy is a street kid and not Muslim. He suspects bigger and more sinister powers lurk behind the murder but can he prove it and solve the case before there’s widespread bloodshed on the streets of Cape Town?

Februarie has to face his own demons, calling himself a “drunk klonkie” with a prostitute as a girlfriend, and has to battle against agitators, shady agents from National Security and his own boss who all seem determined to trip him up.

But he receives invaluable help from sources he can’t trace.

There’s quite a bit in Solace that reminds one of a Deon Meyer novel – and indeed Benny Griessel, Meyer’s most famous character, makes a brief appearance. But where Meyer’s novels are slick and somewhat glamorous’ Solace is gritty and dark.

Some readers might find it a bit too political but on the whole it’s a gripping read.

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