Meyer's ambition matches his execution in this brilliantly complex stand-alone thriller set in his native South Africa. In 2009, Janina Mentz, director of the Presidential Intelligence Agency, is disturbed by rumors that her agency, a creation of a prior administration, will be folded into a new, consolidated national intelligence bureaucracy. Desperate to guard her turf, Mentz banks on information about an Islamic terror plot to preserve the PIA and her job. Her plan to thwart the terrorists and bulletproof her agency by showcasing its utility involves using Milla Strachan, an unemployed woman who's just left her husband, as a researcher. Meanwhile, the efforts of bodyguard Lemmer, who played a key role in Blood Safari, to smuggle endangered black rhinos out of Zimbabwe lead to unexpected trouble. Few readers will anticipate exactly how the separate plot strands will be resolved. This powerhouse read, which captures the many facets of modern South Africa, should be the American breakthrough book this talented author deserves. (Sept.)
Award-winning crime fiction author Meyer demonstrates his superb gift for bringing together several disparate plots, striking characters, and vividly drawn scenes of contemporary South Africa, all roaring toward a climax with more than one surprise. Milla Strachan, a discontented, fortyish housewife with journalistic yearnings, leaves her suburban family and takes a job writing security reports for the secretive Presidential Intelligence Agency. She becomes involved with a man who is being chased by her bosses and the CIA as a murderer and possible terrorist. Meanwhile, Lemmer, a professional bodyguard last seen in Blood Safari, is fighting gangsters while inadvertently smuggling black rhinos. Muslim terrorists lurk in the background of both plots. Elsewhere, Mat Joubert, a cop from Dead Before Dying who is now in private security, seeks a missing husband and a pile of money. VERDICT With a fine eye for detail, an unflattering image of South African culture, and clear sympathy for the downtrodden, Meyer still never loses his focus on page-turning suspense and riveting mystery. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/4/11.]—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Oh, what a tangled web those rhinos weave: South African mystery maven Meyers returns with a complex tale of intrigue and mayhem most satisfying.
Lemmer, the taciturn Afrikaner bodyguard whom we last saw inBlood Safari(2009), has a cardinal rule: Don't get mixed up in things. He might have known better, then, when he allows himself to get caught up in a snarled plot to smuggle black rhinos out of Zimbabwe, where they will be slaughtered so that their horns can go to make human-male-enhancing products for the Asian market. It's a noble enterprise, but as Lemmer well knows, no good deed goes unpunished, and no sooner does the operation embark than do things begin to unravel. Meanwhile, back in South Africa, a 40-something woman named Milla Strachan discovers, finally, that her husband is a right bastard, a "covert racist, bemoaning his lot in front of his son: 'Now we have to come home to a bloody black.' " The bloody black in question would be the maid who now tends to husband and offspring, since Milla has had enough of their abuse and has found a new home—and, more important, a new job working as an analyst for a shadowy government organization. Shift the focus a touch, and players in a cat-and-mouse game of terrorism and counterterrorism enter into the picture: al-Qaeda operatives on one hand, bureaucrats fearful of being made redundant in a downsizing of the post-apartheid security forces on the other. Meyer's carefully plotted narrative is multilayered and rich in detail, and it's to his credit that he is able to pull these separate, seemingly unrelated threads into an a-ha conclusion. In the end, it's about smuggling, killing, and other crimes, but also about the quotidian sins of racism, fear, aloofness, self-interest and mistreatment of others—in short, the ordinary human failings as well as their spectacular transgressions.
A first-rate thriller; a touch slow to get going, but hard to apply the brakes to once it gets rolling.
From the Publisher
“Meyer demonstrates his superb gift for bringing together several disparate plots, striking characters, and vividly drawn scenes of contemporary South Africa, all roaring toward a climax with more than one surprise.”
—Library Journal [HC starred review]
“Meyer’s ambition matches his execution in this brilliantly complex standalone thriller set in his native South Africa.”
—Publishers Weekly [HC starred review]