Today Mandie is taking a look at Reconciliation for the Dead, book three in the Claymore Straker series by Paul E. Hardisty. I love this series and this book was actually the first of the four I read. You can find out how much of an impact it made right here. For those who just want to see what Mandie thinks, read on.
About the Book
Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.
It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.
Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.
Reconciliation for the Dead is the third in the Claymore Straker series and it is the most brutal one yet. Straker has decided now is the time to return to South Africa to tell the truth about what happened fifteen years earlier and it’s not going to be easy. He has already been warned by his friend to leave it alone, but he knows that no matter what it costs him he can no longer be silent about what he witnessed and what he did.
The book takes us between Clay’s testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions investigations and his time in Angola. As he struggles to admit to what went on, it is during the recollections of the past that we finally get to understand how he went from the young, eager to follow orders soldier to the man we have experienced through the first two books in the series.
This was never going to be an easy read as despite it being a work of fiction there is a feel that there is a lot of truth behind the action depicted. Whilst we are all aware of Apartheid as many of us grew up whist it was still happening, we don’t really know or understand exactly what happened or how people suffered. It was interesting getting to know Straker better and following him as he slowly cam to challenge what he believed and what he was being told to do. There is also a greater understanding of what now drives him and the lengths he has gone to, to ensure that he can distance himself from his country and his past actions. For me the parts dealing with his testimony to the commission are almost like a welcomed distraction from what I had read before. It gave me time to really think and take a slight break from the some of the stark brutality of what was going on.
Despite the subject matter and some truly disturbing moments, this book is a compelling, page turning, action packed thriller. This is a book that will stay with me for quite some time, not just for its content but also for the way that Paul E Hardisty has created such a believable character in Claymore Straker. You become invested in what he believes in and you find yourself willing him to triumph, do better and maybe even change the beliefs of some of those around him. His loyalty to those closest to him is unwavering, but he is not afraid to challenge people, even those in authority if he believes it is warranted. I am so glad that I took the plunge to read this series and I am looking forward to reading the next one and seeing if Claymore Straker finally finds the peace he is constantly searching for.
About the Author
Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer,
hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.
Books by Paul E. Hardisty