South African Thrillers from Meyer and Debuter Steyn

Tense, intriguing, and surprising, Meyer's thriller is a solid choice for readers who enjoy well-researched and detailed survival stories; Steyn’s Cape Town will be familiar to any city dweller who no longer knows their neighbors and hides behind barred windows

Meyer, Deon. Fever. Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2017. 544p. tr. from Afrikaans by K.L. Seegers. ISBN 9780802126627. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802189196. F

Meyer, known for his South Africa–set thrillers and detective novels (“Benny Griessel” series), moves into the postapocalyptic genre with his latest murder mystery. Also set in South Africa, this novel takes place in the aftermath of a devastating epidemic. Nico, who was only 14 when a rogue virus ran riot, recalls the circumstances that led to his father’s murder years later. Although primarily told from Nico’s point of view, the narrative also gathers the stories of various inhabitants of Amanzi, the community founded by his father, offering other perspectives. The Amanzians face many challenges—limited and dwindling resources, wild animals, scavenging motorcycle gangs, as well as discord within the group as it grows and adapts. ­VERDICT Tense, intriguing, and surprising, this thriller is a solid choice for readers who enjoy well-researched and detailed survival stories.—Karin ­Thogersen, Huntley Area P.L., IL

Steyn, Martin. Dark Traces. Catalyst. Oct. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781946395016. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781946395054. F

DEBUT South African Police Warrant Officer Jan Magson works in Cape Town’s Violent Crimes Unit. Still grieving the loss of his wife, he is called to a crime scene just out of town. The pathologist, having discovered that the victim had been hanged before being dumped, remembers a similar recent case. When another body is found, and another girl disappears, Jan and his team find themselves on the hunt for a sadistic serial killer. At the same time, an attempted rapprochement with his estranged son in England does not go well when he refuses to answer his son’s questions on how his mother died. Fighting to hold it together so he can stay on the case, Jan races to find the killer before the body count gets higher. VERDICT A damaged but determined detective is matched against a bold and intelligent killer in this captivating debut thriller. Steyn’s Cape Town will be familiar to any city dweller who no longer knows their neighbors and hides behind barred windows. [Catalyst is a new press devoted to African literature.—Ed.]—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green  

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