Title: Blessed Are The Dead
Review : I really loved this book. As an avid reader of police procedurals I am always on the lookout for a great series and Malla Nunn has really delivered with Blessed are the Dead. A beautiful Zulu girl has been found dead in the remote farming country of 1950’s apartheid South Africa and our troubled white police detective, with his native partner in tow, has been sent to dig in to the case.
The crime scene offers up very few clues, but just enough information for our team to start asking questions. Questions lead to more clues, more suspects, and so on until our wide circle slowly begins to tighten down on a few good possibilities. Nunn manages to keep the conclusion at a distance but allows you the reader to arrive at it simultaneously with the police. There are no jumps of logic or giant clues just falling in their path; they get to their killer one step at a time bringing you along for the ride. That is the hallmark of a masterful police procedural.
The book also offers up an indirect commentary on apartheid and racism in general, not only as it relates to blacks (natives) and whites, but the whole range of society and where each person fits into it. The different ranking order of the Dutch Afrikaners versus the British born farmers versus the Jewish Doctor was something I did not understand previously. Nunn opens this 1950’s world in a way that makes it seem more real as opposed to the blanket statements to be found in history texts.
But well written crime doesn’t come down to over the top killers or plots, rather it is firmly settled in the human flaws that have been with us since the beginning of time; Greed, Love, Jealousy, etc. At the end of the day most horrific acts are performed for the most commonplace reasons. Blessed are the Dead is a terrific look into these basest of emotions. Nunn has created a timeless mystery, a crime that could happen in 1950’s South Africa, or on your block tomorrow. This is definitely an author I will read their backlist and in turn keep on reading for as many books as they care to write.
Publisher: Emily Bestler Books
Quick Review: 5 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: Many years ago when I first began keeping track of all the books I read I soon learned 80% of what I read was written by white North American Men. Wanting to change and expand my horizons a little I began actively seeking out books by foreign and/or nonwhite and/or female authors. I have really discovered some great books over the years and Blessed Are the Dead manages to hit all three criteria; plus it is in my favorite genre of all, police procedural.
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review
Synopsis: Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper returns in this powerful, atmospheric novel about two communities forced to confront each other after a murder that exposes their secret ties and forbidden desires in apartheid South Africa, by award-winning author Malla Nunn.
The body of a beautiful seventeen-year-old Zulu girl, Amahle, is found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, halfway between her father’s compound and the enormous white-owned farm where she worked. Detective Sergeant Cooper and Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala are sent to the desolate landscape to investigate. They soon discover that Amahle’s life was woven into both the black and white communities in ways they could never have imagined. Cooper and Shabalala must enter the guarded worlds of a traditional Zulu clan and a divided white farming community to gather up the secrets she left behind and bring her murderer to justice.
In a country deeply divided by apartheid, where the law is bent as often as it is broken, Emmanuel Cooper fights against all odds to deliver justice and bring together two seemingly disparate and irreconcilable worlds despite the danger that is arising.
Author Biography: Currently resides in Sydney, Australia. Her motto: We are people through other people.