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Library Journal★ 06/01/2014
The dead young white woman found floating in a river in the Cape wine country of South Africa just happens to be the daughter of a prominent law professor. Struggling DI Eberard Februarie can barely manage his own life, and his partner Constable Xoliswa Nduku wonders if this case might break him totally. Meanwhile, alternating chapters tell the riveting history of how this particular region was colonized; readers can deduce that the descendants will play roles in the current murder investigation. Februarie soon uncovers a disturbing sex-club component to the victim's life. Two other victims will die in rapid succession before the volatile case is solved. While racial turmoil is the norm for a South African crime novel, it is the sexual scandal that rocks this case. Each chapter opens with a lullaby, and the progressively darker nature of the lyrics escalates the tension in this nightmarish psychological thriller. VERDICT With its lush, detailed descriptions, Brown's debut successfully captures both the beautiful landscapes and the violent textures of South Africa's racially charged history. Winner of South Africa's Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2006, the title is new to U.S. readers. Try pairing with Paul Thomas's New Zealand-set series (Death on Demand).