Saturday, February 5, 2011

Let The Dead Lie by Malla Nunn

A young boy lies murdered in the stockyards of Durban, South Africa.  A few days later, two women are killed in the rooming house where he lived.  The South African police bring in their top suspect, Emmanuel Cooper.  The problem?  Cooper is not the killer.

Who is Emmanuel Cooper?  He is a World War II veteran who returned to South Africa to become a Detective Sergent in the police force.  When a new law sweeps through and reclassifies him as non-white, he loses his job and his status as a white man.  He now does undercover work for Major van Niekerk, his former boss in the police.  Unwilling to lose Cooper's skills, he now uses him undercover. 

When Cooper is hauled in and about to be charged with the three murders, van Niekerk works out a deal.  Cooper has forty-eight hours to find the real killers or else he will be charged and probably killed.  As he races to solve the murders, he is helped by a strange collection of people, a Zulu ex-policeman, a Jewish doctor who has survived the German death camps, and the mistress of his mentor.  There are plots and counterplots; betrayals and secrets revealed, making the ultimate secret that much more difficult to reveal.

Malla Nunn has written a gritty detective novel that will entrance the reader.  Cooper is an intriguing hero, one that the reader will remember long after the last page is read.  The setting is done realistically, and the plot unfolds logically.  The gut-wrenching reality of the apartheid laws in South Africa are portrayed in a way that takes the reader into the lives of those unjustly discriminated against.  This book is recommended for all mystery readers.


Michael Offutt said...

When I first read the title of this book, I thought it said "Let the Dead Die" which gave me a doubletake lol. Good review...thank you :)

Sandie said...

Sorry to freak you out, Michael! I was glad to read this one; I've had it for a while.