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This mystery occurs post WWII in South Africa in the early days of Apartheid under the the Nationalist party. The brutality and degradation of the system is captured in this excellent mystery. I read the second book and then the first book but both are worth reading in any order. Characters are multi-dimensional and complex which added to the reality of the story. The reader is terrific and made the characters come alive. I certainly hope there will be more books to come by this author and reader.
29 of 34 people found this review helpful
The first in the Detective Emmanuel Cooper Mysteries, A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE is set in 1950's apartheid South Africa. Cooper is sent to investigate the murder of the local Afrikaner Police Captain --the father of the town's powerful Pretiorus family. He is aided by the town's only black Zulu police officer and a Jewish doctor transplant from WW2. Cooper is having to work secretly and carefully because of the politically powerful Security Branch, which is determined to ring a confession from a "black Communist" who was actually a man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Racial tensions dominate the investigation and the addition of the Immorality Laws (forbidding sex between the races) and a Peeping Tom case confuse everything. Then there is also Cooper's haunting by his old WW2 Scottish Sergeant Major. Secrets, forbidden photographs, twisted religion, and mixed race people confuse an already difficult case. Power, greed, and brutality are all too common as Cooper tries to stay away from the vengeance and muscles of those who have determined their own outcome choices.
It's hard to say that I enjoyed this book. I can say it rang very true of the times. The injustices and sheer evil of the situations and laws made for difficult reading at times, but perhaps that is what actually made this an excellent book. Excellent narration!
28 of 34 people found this review helpful