Blessed Are the Dead

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Overview


Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper returns in this powerful, atmospheric novel about two communities forced to confront each other after a murder that exposes their secret ties and forbidden desires in apartheid South Africa, by award-winning author Malla Nunn.

The body of a beautiful seventeen-year-old Zulu girl, Amahle, is found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, halfway between her father’s compound and the enormous white-owned farm where she ...

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Blessed Are the Dead (Emmanuel Cooper Series #3)

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Overview


Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper returns in this powerful, atmospheric novel about two communities forced to confront each other after a murder that exposes their secret ties and forbidden desires in apartheid South Africa, by award-winning author Malla Nunn.

The body of a beautiful seventeen-year-old Zulu girl, Amahle, is found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, halfway between her father’s compound and the enormous white-owned farm where she worked. Detective Sergeant Cooper and Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala are sent to the desolate landscape to investigate. They soon discover that Amahle’s life was woven into both the black and white communities in ways they could never have imagined. Cooper and Shabalala must enter the guarded worlds of a traditional Zulu clan and a divided white farming community to gather up the secrets she left behind and bring her murderer to justice.

In a country deeply divided by apartheid, where the law is bent as often as it is broken, Emmanuel Cooper fights against all odds to deliver justice and bring together two seemingly disparate and irreconcilable worlds despite the danger that is arising.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nunn once again vividly recaptures 1950s South Africa in her gripping and thoughtful third mystery featuring Det. Sgt. Emmanuel Cooper (after 2010’s Let the Dead Lie). When Amahle Matebula, a 17-year-old Zulu girl and a chief’s daughter, is murdered in a farming hamlet outside Durban, Cooper, who’s of mixed race, and his assistant, Det. Constable Samuel Shabalala, of the Native Detective Branch, investigate. The father of the girl, who was promised in marriage to another chief in exchange for 20 cows, appears most concerned that he won’t receive the livestock. Matebula’s disappearance a few days earlier was reported to the local authorities, who did nothing. The corpse, which was laid out carefully with a blanket for a pillow, shows no sign of injury apart from a small bruise. Oddly, the local doctor is reluctant to help with a forensic examination. The anomalies all come together nicely by the end as Nunn brilliantly combines character and fair play clues. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (June)
Library Journal
Once again, South African Det. Emmanuel Cooper (Let the Dead Lie) must straddle conflicting cultures; this time the victim is a teenage Zulu girl. Edgar nominee Nunn writes strong and exciting crime fiction.
Kirkus Reviews
The murder of a beautiful Zulu housemaid threatens to inflame racial tensions in 1953 South Africa. Even before preacher Baba Kaleni found her body, garlanded with flowers and pillowed by a tartan blanket, someone had telephoned Col. van Niekirk, of the Durban CID, to alert him to a murder. So the colonel promptly passes on the news to D.S. Emmanuel Cooper, even though it's 3:45 a.m. and he couldn't possibly know (or could he?) that Emmanuel is frisking with Lana Rose, the mistress the colonel is about to sacrifice to his impending marriage. This prologue offers a foretaste of the secrets that await Emmanuel and D.C. Samuel Shabalala when they arrive the next day in tiny Roselet. The late Amahle Matebula's family, headed by a chieftain with five wives, demands the release of her body from the police surgeon's custody; the Reed family, the Afrikaner owners of Little Flint Farm, where Amahle toiled as a maid, barely seems to notice her absence. So it's no wonder Constable Desmond Bagley, station commander of the Roselet Police, did nothing when Amahle's mother reported her missing. Like James McClure, Nunn (Let the Dead Lie, 2010, etc.) sets the warm, intimate professional relationship between his two police officers against the contrasting, and apparently unbridgeable, gaps between Afrikaners and Zulus everywhere they turn in Roselet. It's especially gratifying to see what Emmanuel does when, on orders from above, he's pulled off the case and Shabalala isn't. Historical hindsight may make readers a bit more self-congratulatory about recognizing the evils of apartheid, but it won't help them see around the curves Nunn has plotted or rise above her insight into the enduring dilemmas of her separate-and-unequal world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781743177334
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/28/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Malla Nunn was born in Swaziland, South Africa, and currently lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a filmmaker with three award-winning films to her credit and is currently at work on her next novel.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Jealousy

    The iconoclastic South African detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper returns in this excellent third installment in the series, replete with poignant observations on the effects of the rigid apartheid system in the country in 1953. Cooper, who remains in the dog house for past transgressions, is plucked by his superior to solve a murder in an attempt to resurrect his status.

    Accompanied by black Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala, he finds the body of a 17-year-old Zulu girl, daughter of a chief. There are no clues at the scene, and the two have to scrounge for leads and face obstacles from the natives and landowners, each with their own agenda. The victim herself was involved in both the white and native African worlds, so that the detectives have to cope with the guarded secrets of both communities.

    The characters drawn with deep accuracy to depict the characteristics of the South African society at the time are real and flawed. The novel brings the reader into the corrupt atmosphere of the country with careful descriptions and sharp prose. Another welcome addition to the adventures of a colorful detective, and it is most highly recommended.

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