Cobra by Deon Meyer

Cobra CoverJust opening Deon Meyer’s latest thriller filled me with nostalgia. On the inside flap is a map of greater Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape area in South Africa. That alone would have been enough, but the map also included the MetroRail commuter train stations all the way from Cape Town to Stellenbosch, Simonstown and beyond. In 1998 I rode MetroRail trains from Observatory in Cape Town to Bellville, to do research at the University of the Western Cape. As you can see, the book would have had to work hard for me to not like it. But it blew me away. With the deft pen of a master, Deon Meyer weaves together a complex tale that kept me reading.

Benny Griessel, Meyer’s recurring protagonist, has advanced to the Hawks, the elite investigators of the SAPS. He catches the most baffling case, two dead bodyguards and one missing foreigner. Bad news all around, especially the missing foreigner bit, what with tourism a crucial source of foreign exchange for the country. But a simple abduction/kidnapping turns into a conspiracy of global reach when a routine inquire at the British Consulate yields a strange conversation with a person who is obviously a spook.

Benny, fighting old and new demons in his personal life, worries about being a has-been in the new crack team of investigators. He’s the cop in charge of the investigation and his willpower is tested beyond what seems bearable to bring down the killers and keep the bystanders out of harms way. Cobra is Benny Griessel at his best.

Playing way more than a bit part is Tyrone Kleinbooi. He may only be a pickpocket, but he’s putting his sister through university and he ends up in the middle of this mess. Suffice it to say, he comes through with flying colors. A worthy companion to Benny Griessel.

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