A Beautiful Place to Die

Malla Nunn, Author
Malla Nunn, Author . Atria $25 (375p) ISBN 978-1-4165-8620-3
Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009

Set in South Africa in 1952, Australian filmmaker Nunn’s stellar debut explores a divided society through the frame of a classic murder mystery. When Det. Sgt. Emmanuel Cooper, Nunn’s tortured sleuth, investigates white suspects in the fatal shooting of Afrikaner police captain Willem Pretorius, he immediately encounters resistance from the victim’s family. Before long, brutal investigators from the Security Branch offer a politically expedient solution. Cooper must fend off their threats as he pursues a link between the murder and an open Peeping Tom case that Pretorius had been probing. The detective finds no shortage of people who might have had a motive for killing the captain. Fans of Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge series (A Matter of Justice , etc.) will note some parallels, in particular Cooper’s being haunted by the spirit of his old sergeant-major. Smooth prose and a deft plot make this novel a welcome addition to crime fiction set in South Africa. (Jan.)

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