cover image Cobra


Deon Meyer, trans. from the Afrikaans by K.L. Seegers. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2324-4

Meyer’s assured fourth Bennie Griessel thriller (after 2012’s Seven Days) takes the Cape Town homicide detective to South African wine country, where the British citizen Paul Morris has been kidnapped. At the guesthouse where Morris was staying, his two bodyguards lie dead, each of them shot in the head. Near the bodies are shell casings, each etched with the head of a cobra. Back in Cape Town, the amiable cutpurse Tyrone Kleinbooi, who’s devoted to putting his sister through medical school, becomes a target of the same cobra killers after picking the wrong pocket. Suspense builds as the action shifts between Griessel’s and Tyrone’s increasingly life-threatening exploits. On a lighter note, Afrikaans expressions season the story (a glossary is included), and there are practical lessons in the art of pickpocketing. The novel’s only flaw is the abrupt ending, which leaves at least one character’s fate unresolved. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)