Blood Safari

Blood Safari

3.6 547
by Deon Meyer, K.L. Seegers
     
 

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Blood Safari is a harrowing novel from internationally acclaimed thriller writer Deon Meyer, an expert storyteller whose wickedly fast narratives reveal the heart of his enthralling country. In Blood Safari, Emma Le Roux, a beautiful young woman in Cape Town, sees her brother named on the television news as the prime suspect in the killing of fourSee more details below

Overview

Blood Safari is a harrowing novel from internationally acclaimed thriller writer Deon Meyer, an expert storyteller whose wickedly fast narratives reveal the heart of his enthralling country. In Blood Safari, Emma Le Roux, a beautiful young woman in Cape Town, sees her brother named on the television news as the prime suspect in the killing of four poachers and a witch doctor. But it can’t be possible: Emma’s brother is supposed to be dead, having disappeared twenty years ago in Kruger National Park. Emma tries to find out more but is attacked and barely escapes. So she hires Lemmer, a personal security expert, and sets out into the country in search of the truth.

A complicated man with a dishonorable past, Lemmer just wants to do his job and avoid getting personally involved. But as he and Emma search for answers from the rural police, they encounter racial and political tensions, greed, corruption, and violence unlike anything they have ever known.

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Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
Deon Meyer's novels explore the complex reality of South Africa, a world little known to many of us. At the most obvious level, they are exciting stories of crime, conflict and revenge, but they are more than that: ambitious attempts to show us the pain and greatness of a troubled nation that is still being born…Meyer is a serious writer who richly deserves the international reputation he has built. Blood Safari manages to be both an exciting read and an eye-opening portrait of a nation with problems perhaps even more complex and agonizing than our own.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Set mainly in the game preserves of South Africa, Meyer's stellar stand-alone thriller delivers muscular prose with a hero to match. When three masked men break into the Cape Town home of Emma le Roux on Christmas Eve, Emma manages to escape over the wall into her neighbor's yard. Emma fears the attack may be connected to recent evidence that her brother, Jacobus, who she thought died 20 years before while serving as a temporary game ranger, is actually alive. She hires professional bodyguard Martin Lemmer to protect her while she investigates. Lemmer is a true original, tough, with a checkered past, a restless inquiring mind and the skills to thwart the masked thugs who are determined to kill his client. After Emma is severely injured, Lemmer goes on the offensive, bent on revenge and determined to solve the ever-widening mystery that threatens to kill them both. Once again, Meyer (Devil's Peak) shows he's a writer not to be missed. (Sept.)
Library Journal
When Emma le Roux, a wealthy Cape Town advertising consultant, sees a TV photo of a man wanted for murder, she believes it is her brother, who disappeared 20 years earlier in Kruger National Park. After barely eluding three armed thugs who invade her house, she hires Lemer, a professional bodyguard. In ten years he's never lost a client, so when Emma is shot and left in a coma, Lemer seeks revenge. This leads to encounters in the veld with game rangers, more deaths, and angry police and officials in high places who go to extremes to prevent his discovering decades-old secrets. Like fellow South African crime writer James McClure, Meyer (Heart of the Hunter) is skilled at creating memorable black and white characters while also bluntly depicting the violent past that affects modern South Africa. In his fifth novel, he draws on his experience as a reporter to present striking characters and vivid African settings and to provide an honest look at South Africa's troubled political history. VERDICT Full of page-turning tension, this will strongly appeal to mystery and suspense fans seeking intelligent, hard-boiled action. Readers who like their crime fiction in exotic locations may also enjoy this excellent thriller. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09; a best seller in South Africa and Germany, Blood Safari won the Inaugural ATKV (South Africa) Prize for Best Suspense Fiction.—Ed.]—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Kirkus Reviews
Top-notch thriller from South African Meyer (Devil's Peak, 2008, etc.) about a young woman's desperate search for her dead brother. More than 20 years ago, 14-year-old Emma le Roux suffered the wiping out of her loving family. First her adored soldier brother Jacobus disappeared somewhere in the vast wilds of Kruger National Park while chasing poachers, then her parents were killed in a car crash. By the time she hires narrator/protagonist Lemmer to protect her from unknown assailants, gutsy Emma has overcome grief and bereavement to become a lovely, successful career woman, brand consultant to major corporations. Lemmer (he hates his first name) is a professional bodyguard employed by a leading executive-security firm called Body Armor. Emma seeks his help as the result of a chain of events both sudden and terrifyingly inexplicable. Three days ago on Cape Town television, she tells Lemmer, she saw a photo of a certain Jacobus de Villiers. After factoring in the passage of time, she decided that he was a look-alike for Jacobus de Roux and that reports of her brother's death had been meretriciously exaggerated. She asked questions, then someone tried to murder her. Is this cause and effect she thinks it is? Are there uncomfortable secrets powerful people would prefer to keep buried? Cool, tight-lipped Lemmer, hiding his own uncomfortable secrets, has no answers for Emma. What he does have, however, will prove considerably more useful as her dangerous investigation intensifies. It's commitment. Unswerving and total. For tough, skilled, resourceful Lemmer, the very template of a modern-day warrior, has fallen in love. Overplotted as usual, but when Meyer gets the people right, as he doeshere, he's hard to beat. Agent: Richard Pine/InkWell Management LLC
Guardian
“Meyer, who writes in Afrikaans, is far and away the best crime writer in South Africa. The action is as exciting as any reader of thrillers has a right to demand. The writing is fluent and coherent and full of insight into the problems of South Africa. As Meyer writes, money and poverty and greed do not lie well together. But they make a hell of a thriller.”
—Matthew Lewin, Guardian
— Matthew Lewin
The Sunday Times
“Pulsating and gripping.”
The Sunday Times
Business Day
Blood Safari is my first exposure to the man billed by his publishers as the 'king of South African crime thrillers'. For once the publicity spinners are not guilty of hyperbole—Meyer is simply excellent.”
— Business Day
Washington Post
“Pulsating and gripping.”
The Sunday Times
Seeing the World Through Books
“Meyer is a serious writer who richly deserves the international reputation he has built. Blood Safari manages to be both an exciting read and an eye-opening portrait of a nation with problems perhaps even more complex and agonizing than our own.”
Washington Post
Madison County Herald
“The action comes fast and furious . . . a terrific and unusual thriller, the fifth of Meyer’s novels . . . each of which has been better than the last.”
—Mary Whipple, Seeing the World Through Books
Booklist
“[T]his first-class thriller . . . manages to include South African history and musings on apartheid and the environment without losing a beat of its feverish pacing. . . . Vance uses a tough, terse delivery that nails the character as a South African version of Jack Reacher. And he’s just as on target in crafting variations of that accent for the rest of the cast. Men, women, white, black, friends and foes, Vance has their vocal number.”
Publishers Weekly
Miami Herald
“Deon Meyer's novels explore the complex reality of South Africa, a world little known to many of us. At the most obvious level, they are exciting stories of crime, conflict and revenge, but they are more than that: ambitious attempts to show us the pain and greatness of a troubled nation that is still being born.”
Miami Herald
Guardian - Matthew Lewin
“Meyer, who writes in Afrikaans, is far and away the best crime writer in South Africa. The action is as exciting as any reader of thrillers has a right to demand. The writing is fluent and coherent and full of insight into the problems of South Africa. As Meyer writes, money and poverty and greed do not lie well together. But they make a hell of a thriller.”
—Matthew Lewin, Guardian
Seeing the World Through Books - Mary Whipple
“The action comes fast and furious . . . a terrific and unusual thriller, the fifth of Meyer’s novels . . . each of which has been better than the last.”
—Mary Whipple, Seeing the World Through Books
NPR The World
“Top-notch.”
Kirkus Reviews
From the Publisher
“Simon Vance builds the tension with tone, pacing, and inflection. Meyer’s forte is character development, in particular the character of Lemmer. Vance reveals a man who slowly brings down his emotional wall as he tells his own story.”
AudioFile

“A perfectly paced reading.”
Booklist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802198976
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/07/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
320,752
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I swung the sledgehammer in a lazy rhythm. It was Tuesday, 25 December, just past noon. The wall was thick and stubbornly hard. After each dull thump, shards of brick and cement broke off and shot across the plank floor like shrapnel. I felt sweat tracking through the dust on my face and torso. It was an oven in there, despite the open windows.

Between hammer blows I heard the phone ring. I was reluctant to break the rhythm. In this heat it would be hard to get the machine going again. Slowly, I put the long handle down and went through to the sitting room, feeling the shards under my bare feet. The phone's little screen displayed Jeanette. I wiped a grimy hand on my shorts and picked it up.

'Jis.'

'Merry Christmas.' Jeanette Louw's gravelly voice was loaded with inexplicable irony. As ever.

'Thanks. Same to you.'

'Must be good and hot out there …'

'Thirty-eight outside.'

In winter she would say, 'Must be nice and cold out there,' with undisguised regret about my choice of residence.

'Loxton,' she said now, as if it were a faux pas. 'You'll just have to sweat it out, then. What do you do for Christmas in those parts?'

'Demolish the wall between the kitchen and the bathroom.'

'You did say the kitchen and the bathroom?'

'That's how they built them in the old days.'

'And that's how you celebrate Christmas. Old rural tradition, huh?' and she barked out a single, loud 'Ha!'

I knew she hadn't phoned to wish me Happy Christmas. 'You've got a job for me.'

'Uh-huh.'

'Tourist?'

'No. Woman from the Cape, actually. She says she was attacked yesterday. She wants you for a week or so, paid the deposit already.'

I thought about the money, which I needed. 'Oh?'

'She's in Hermanus. I'll SMS the address and cell phone number. I'll tell her you're on your way. Call me if you have any problems.'

I met Emma le Roux for the first time in a beach house overlooking the Old Harbour of Hermanus. The house was impressive, three new Tuscan storeys of rich man's playground with a hand-carved wooden front door and a door knocker in the shape of a lion's head.

At a quarter to seven on Christmas night a young man with long curly hair and steel-rimmed spectacles opened the door. He introduced himself as Henk and said they were expecting me. I could see he was curious, though he hid it well. He invited me in and asked me to wait in the sitting room while he called 'Miss le Roux'. A formal man. There were noises from deep in the house — classical music, conversation. The smell of cooking.

He disappeared. I didn't sit down. After six hours' drive through the Karoo in my Isuzu, I preferred to stand. There was a Christmas tree in the room, a big artificial one with plastic pine needles and mock snow. Multicoloured lights blinked. At the top of the tree was an angel with long, blonde hair, wings spread wide like a bird of prey. Behind her the curtains of the big windows were open. The bay was lovely in the late afternoon, the sea calm and still. I stared out at it.

'Mr Lemmer?'

I turned.

She was tiny and slim. Her black hair was cut very short, almost like a man's. Her eyes were large and dark, the tips of her ears slightly pointed. She looked like a nymph from a children's story. She stood for a moment to take me in, the involuntary up-and-down look to measure me against her expectations. She hid her disappointment well. They usually expect someone bigger, more imposing — not this general average of height and appearance.

She came up to me and put out her hand. 'I'm Emma le Roux.' Her hand was warm.

'Hello.'

'Please sit down.' She gestured at the suite in the sitting room. 'Can I get you something to drink?' Her voice had an unexpected timbre, as if it belonged to a larger woman.

'No thanks.'

I sat down. The movement of her petite body was fluid, as though she were completely comfortable inside it. She sat down opposite me. Tucked up her legs, at home here. I wondered whether it was her place, where the money came from.

'I, ah …' She waved a hand. 'This is a first for me, having a bodyguard …'

I wasn't sure how to respond. The lights of the Christmas tree flicked their colours over her with monotonous regularity.

'Maybe you could explain how it works,' Emma said without embarrassment. 'In practice, I mean.'

I wanted to say that if you order this service, you ought know how it works. There is no reference manual.

'It's simple really. To protect you I need to know what your movements are every day …'

'Of course.'

'And the nature of the threat.'

She nodded. 'Well … I'm not exactly sure what the threat is. Some odd things have happened … Carel convinced me …. You'll meet him in a moment; he's used your service before. I … there was an attack, yesterday morning …'

'On you?'

'Yes. Well, sort of … They broke down the door of my house and came in.'

'They?'

'Three men.'

'Were they armed?'

'No. Yes. They, um … It happened so fast … I … I hardly saw them.'

I suppressed the urge to raise my eyebrows.

'I know it sounds … peculiar,' she said.

I said nothing.

'It was … strange, Mr Lemmer. Sort of … surreal.'

I nodded, encouraging her.

She looked at me intently for a moment and then leaned over to switch on a table lamp beside her.

'I have a house in Oranjezicht,' she said.

'So this is not your permanent home?'

'No … this is Carel's place. I'm just visiting. For Christmas.'

'I see.'

'Yesterday morning … I wanted to finish my work before packing for the weekend … My office … I work from home, you see. About half past nine I took a shower …'

Her story did not flow at first. She seemed reluctant to relive it. Her sentences were incomplete, hands quiet, her voice a polite, indifferent monotone. She gave more detail than the situation warranted. Perhaps she felt it lent credibility.

After her shower, she said she was dressing in her bedroom, one leg in her jeans, precariously balanced. She heard the garden gate open and through the lace curtain she saw three men move quickly and purposefully through the front garden. Before they disappeared from her field of vision on the way to the front door, she had registered that they were wearing balaclavas. They had blunt objects in their hands.

She was a modern single woman. Aware. She had often considered the possibility of being the victim of a crime and what her emergency response could be if the worst happened. Therefore, she stepped into the other leg of her jeans and hastily pulled them up over her hips. She was half dressed in only underwear and jeans, but the priority was to get to the panic button and be ready to sound the alarm. But not to press it yet, there was still the security gate and the burglar bars. She didn't want the embarrassment of crying wolf.

Her bare feet moved swiftly across the carpet to the panic button on her bedroom wall. She lifted her finger and waited. Her heart thumped in her throat, but still she was in control. She heard the squeal of metal stubbornly bending and breaking. The security door was no longer secure. She pressed the alarm. It wailed out from the ceiling above and with the sound came a wave of panic.

Her narration seemed to draw her in and her hands began to communicate. Her voice developed a musical tone, the pitch rising.

Emma le Roux ran down the passage to the kitchen. She was fleetingly aware that burglars and thieves did not use this method. It fuelled her terror. In her haste she collided with the wooden back door with a dull thud. Her hands shook as she pulled back both bolts and turned the key in the lock. The second she jerked open the door she heard splintering in the hall, glass shattering. The front door was breached. They were in her house.

She took one step outside and stopped. Then turned back into the kitchen to grab a drying cloth from the sink. She wanted it to cover herself. Later she would scold herself for such an irrational act, but it was instinctive. Another fraction of a second she hesitated. Should she grab a weapon, a carving knife? She suppressed that impulse.

She ran into the bright sunlight with the drying cloth pressed to her breast. The neatly paved backyard was very small.

She looked at the high concrete wall that was meant to protect her, keep the world out. It was now keeping her in. For the first time she screamed 'Help me!' A distress call to neighbours she did not know — this was urban Cape Town, where you kept your distance, pulled up the drawbridge every night, kept yourself to yourself. She could hear them in the house behind her. One shouted something. Her eye caught the black rubbish bin against the concrete wall — a step to safety.

'Help!' she called between the undulating wails of the alarm.

Emma didn't remember how she made it over the wall. But she did, in one or two adrenalin-fuelled movements. The drying cloth stayed behind in the process, so that she landed in her neighbour's yard without it. Her left knee scraped against something. She felt no pain; only later would she notice the little rip in the denim.

'Help me.' Her voice was shrill and desperate. She crossed her arms across her bosom to preserve her decency and ran to the neighbour's back door. 'Help me!'

She heard the dustbin overturn and knew they were close behind. The door opened in front of her and a grizzled man in a red dressing gown with white dots came out. He had a rifle in his hand. Above his eyes the silver eyebrows grew long and dense, making wings across his forehead.

'Help me,' she said with relief in her voice.

The neighbour rested his eyes on her for a second, a grown woman with a boyish figure. Then he raised his eyebrows and his gaze to the wall behind her. He brought the rifle up to his shoulder and pointed it at the wall. She had almost reached him now and looked back. A balaclava appeared for an instant above the concrete.

The neighbour fired. The shot reverberated against the multiple walls around them and the bullet slammed into her house with a clapping sound. For three or four minutes after that she could not hear a thing. She stood close to her neighbour, trembling. He did not look at her. He worked the bolt of his rifle. A casing clinked to the cement, noiselessly to her deafened ears. The neighbour scanned the wall.

'Bastards,' he said as he aimed along the barrel. He swung the rifle horizontally to cover the whole front.

She didn't know how long they stood there. The attackers had gone. Her hearing returned with a rushing sound, then she heard the alarm again. Eventually he slowly lowered the rifle and asked her in a voice full of concern and eastern Europe, 'Are you all right, my darlink?'

She began to cry.

From the Hardcover edition.

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