Mixed Blood

Mixed Blood

3.7 11
by Roger Smith
     
 

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"An American fugitive hides out in Cape Town - one of the world's most beautiful and violent cities - in this riveting debut thriller that asks: Can you ever outrun your past?" "Reluctant bank robber Jack Burn is on the run after a heist in the United States that left $3 million missing and one cop dead. Hiding out in Cape Town, South Africa, he is desperate to… See more details below

Overview

"An American fugitive hides out in Cape Town - one of the world's most beautiful and violent cities - in this riveting debut thriller that asks: Can you ever outrun your past?" "Reluctant bank robber Jack Burn is on the run after a heist in the United States that left $3 million missing and one cop dead. Hiding out in Cape Town, South Africa, he is desperate to build a new life for his pregnant wife and young son. But on a tranquil evening in their new suburban neighborhood they are the victims of a random gangland assault that changes everything." "Benny Mongrel, an ex-con night watchman guarding a building site next to Burn's home, is another man desperate to escape his past. After years in the ghetto gangs of Cape Town he knows who went into Burn's house. And what the American did to them. He also knows his only chance to save his own brown skin is to forget what he saw." Burn's actions on that night trap them both in a cat-and-mouse game with Rudi "Gatsby" Barnard - a corrupt Afrikaner cop who loves killing almost as much as he loves Jesus Christ - and Disaster Zondi, a fastidious Zulu detective who wishes to settle an old score. Once Gatsby smells those missing American millions, the four men are drawn into a web of murder and vengeance that builds to an unforgettable conclusion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Screenwriter Smith offers a gritty tale of corruption and vengeance set in South Africa in his absorbing debut. On the verge of financial ruin, American Jack Burn, a security specialist, reluctantly joined a bank robbery plot that he hoped would save his family from disaster. The scheme ended badly, with most of his accomplices dead, along with a policeman, turning Burn, who made off with millions, into a wanted fugitive. Under a new identity, Burn has succeeded in making a new life with his wife and four-year-old son in Cape Town, South Africa. Their tenuous stability ends after two meth-heads invade the Burnses' home and threaten violence. While Jack manages to kill the intruders and dispose of the bodies, the incident draws the unwelcome attention of Insp. Rudi Barnard, a dirty cop who rules the area known as Cape Flats. The grim denouement may not satisfy all readers, but Smith's taut prose bodes well for future thrillers from his pen. Author tour. (Feb.)

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Library Journal

Smith's debut is a fast-paced crime story set in Cape Town, South Africa, where an uneasy relationship exists among white, black, and "colored" people of varying ethnicity. Jack Burn, an American security-systems expert, fled the United States with wife and child in tow following his forced participation in a bank robbery during which a cop was killed. Now living in the wealthy heights of Cape Town, he and his family find their life further roiled when two thugs on meth invade their home one night. In order to save his pregnant wife and young son from harm, Jack is forced to kill both men. This event will threaten his marriage and his son's life; entangle him in the affairs of Benny Mongrel, an ex-con also trying to escape a desperate past; and put him in the crosshairs of fat Rudi Barnard, a corrupt Afrikaner cop who kills with the ease of a psychopath. Cleverly plotted, this is a gripping thriller that follows believable (if sometimes grotesque) characters along a desperate rush to ruin. The brutal landscape will remind readers of Deon Meyer's best South African novels. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ10/1/08.]
—Ron Terpening

Kirkus Reviews
An American attempting to outrun his past runs afoul of Cape Town locals on both sides of the law in this debut thriller. After Jack Burn participates in a bank robbery that leaves a cop dead, he and his pregnant wife decide to start a new life with their four-year-old son in this bustling city on Africa's southern tip. Things are going well until two small-time gangbangers, high on crystal meth, decide to break into Burn's house, terrorize his family and take what they want from his home. Of course the gangsters don't know about Burn's criminal past or his military training. Before things have a chance to get really ugly, both gangsters wind up dead on the floor, victims of Burn's skills with a kitchen knife. Being a wanted fugitive, he can't go to the police, so he's forced to dispose of the bodies himself. This sets off a complicated chain of events that thrusts Burn into the midst of Cape Town's dark, confusing underworld. He finds himself caught amidst three opposing forces: Rudi "Gatsby" Barnard, an obese, foul-smelling crooked cop; Benny Mongrel, a gangbanger turned security guard who witnessed the break-in from his post at a building site across the street; and Disaster Zondi, a reformer from the capital who is trying to clean up the local police department. Smith does an outstanding job of bringing Cape Town to life, taking us through the twists and turns of the local criminal world and the confusing labyrinth of racial identity in post-apartheid South Africa. His prose is crisp and efficient, but unfortunately, beneath this book's fascinating and vividly conjured location lies a pretty standard story peopled with pretty standard players. Genre fans will find nothingobjectionable, but others may long for something new, or at least for characters with a little more depth. Agent: Alice Martell/Alice Martell Agency
author of Sweetheart and Evil at Heart Chelsea Cain
With its shattering sense of place and satisfying plot twists, this book will grip you from page one.
The Florida Times Union
Almost impossible to put down, offering the rewards of a literary thriller combined with the zip of a powerful movie.
Booklist
Like Pelecanos, Smith captures the humanity burning in lives trapped by poverty and prejudice.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Smith's Cape Town is almost Dickensian in its presentation of thugs and murderers [and] an especially wonderful villain.
author of Executive Privilege Phillip Margolin
Mixed Blood is an unnerving thrill ride that kept me on edge from beginning to end. The set-up is terrific and the bad guy is really bad - but so are the good guys. Mixed Blood is a top notch debut thriller and I'm looking forward to Roger Smith's next book.
The Roanoke Times
[A] well-told, brutal tale…. Riveting.
author of First Daughter and The Bourne Sanction Eric Van Lustbader
Startling, vivid, frightening. A first-rate debut from an up-and-coming talent.
author of Heartsick and Sweetheart Chelsea Cain
Smith's characters fight for their lives against a Cape Town heavy with heat, grime, corruption, and gang violence. With its shattering sense of place and satisfying plot twists, this book will grip you from page one.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781846687587
Publisher:
Serpent's Tail Publishing Ltd
Publication date:
05/28/2011

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