Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on The Dark Flood, the latest Benny Griessel novel from Deon Meyer. This is the first book I’ve read from this author but it won’t be the last. My thanks to Sophie Ransom of Ransom PR for the tour invite and to publisher Hodder & Stouhgton for. the advance copy of the book. Here’s what it’s about:
About the Book
‘The undisputed champion of South African crime’ – Wilbur Smith
One last chance. Almost fired for insubordination, detectives Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido find themselves demoted, exiled from the elite Hawks unit and dispatched to the leafy streets of Stellenbosch. Working a missing persons report on student Callie de Bruin is not the level of work they are used to, but it’s all they get. And soon, it takes a dangerous, deeply disturbing turn.
One last chance. Stellenbosch is beautiful, but its economy has been ruined by one man. Jasper Boonstra and his gigantic corporate fraud have crashed the local property market, just when estate agent Sandra Steenberg desperately needs a big sale. Bringing up twins and supporting her academic husband, she is facing disaster. Then she gets a call. From Jasper Boonstra, fraudster, sexual predator and owner of a superb property worth millions, even now.
For Sandra, the stakes are high and about to get way higher.
For Benny Griessel, clinging to sobriety and the relationship that saved his life, the truth about Callie can only lead to more trouble.
Taut with intrigue, murder and suspense, exploding with action and excitement, The Dark Flood is a masterpiece from the author of Trackers and The Last Hunt.
Well this book certainly starts in explosive style – almost literally. The Hawks unit in which Benny Griessel works is caught up in an armed incident whilst trying to prevent a robbery, one which almost ends in tragedy but which, as much as it is a high action, high stakes scene, also has moments which made me smile, alleviating the tension a touch. It does clearly demonstrate the camaraderie of the team though, as well as the nature of the two main Detectives we are going to spend time with, Griessel and his partner, Vaughan Cupido. It’s not all plain sailing though and, for reasons which are likely to be a bit clearer if I’d read the previous books, they soon find themselves in an almost exile. Not as bad as they first feared, but not part of their team either. If you’re the kind of person who likes to know everything about everything, you probably don’t want to start at this book in the series, although for me there was enough of a gist to allow me to understand what had gone before, even if not in detail.
This is really a book which follows two distinct but soon to be interwoven threads. The first is the case that Griessel and Cupido find themselves on soon after arriving in Stellenbosch – the disappearance of student Callie de Bruin. Everything about his life seems to be very much on the straight and narrow – dedicated to his studies and his mother – and yet suddenly he is gone from both. The more they investigate, the stranger the case becomes and the clearer it is that he hasn’t just gone off of his own accord as many people think. This is a complicated and twisted case, with surprising links back to the Detectives former lives. There is a dark edge to this part of the story, a real sense of unease and of something bad about to happen that lurks on the periphery of the investigation, all with good reason as we soon find out. I found myself fascinated by the case and by the two detectives, very different in personality, but both people I warmed to very quickly.
The second part of the story is given over to estate agent Sandra Steenberg. Although you may wonder how this fits into the wider story – there is no obvious link between an estate sale, even if the owner has a certain notoriety about town, and a missing person case afterall. And yet … this part of the story still absolutely captured the imagination and the objectification of Sandra by not only Jasper Boonstra but by her own boss was so acutely observed that is made my blood boil. What comes to pass, and how it ties into Griessel’s investigation, really works well and left me very satisfied. Let’s just say you really don’t want to mess with the women in this story.
Character and setting are two elements of this story that work well for me. Deon Meyer makes both live so clearly in the reader’s eye, that even though this was my first dip into this series, I could picture all of the characters and the environments perfectly. It helped to pull me into the story as being so far into the series, any disconnect there might have been off putting. No-one in this book is painted as picture perfect – believe me they are all greatly flawed – but they were engaging or entertaining, and I’d be happy to spend time in their company again.
There is a real tension in the dying pages, a dramatic showdown that is reminiscent in a way of the opening scenes. Lives are at risk, but there is more than just life and liberty at stake. There is a third, almost overlooked element to this book, one which has big repercussions for Griessel and Cupido, that is drawn to a very satisfying conclusion, even as bullets fly over their heads. Mostly at least. And the final pages of the book – well they left me with a smile on my face as well as a kind of ‘oh-oh’ feeling. A really intriguing place to leave a story just when everything looked to be going so well …
Fast paced, packed with great characters and setting and with a perfect blend of action, intensity and humour, fans of the series, and of Detective fiction in general, will eat it up.
About the Author
DEON MEYER is the internationally acclaimed, prizewinning author of thirteen thrillers, including The Last Hunt, The Woman in the Blue Cloak, Fever, Icarus, Cobra, Seven Days, and the Barry Award-winning Thirteen Hours. His books have been published in twenty-seven languages. He lives in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
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