Monday, July 11, 2011

Z is for Zirk Van Den Berg's NOBODY DIES

Well after more than six months of fantastic alphabetically inspired posts from some great crime fiction bloggers in several countries, we’ve finally come to the end of the road for the Crime Fiction Alphabet, version 2.011. Z-Day, so to speak.

So, for this final week of our crime fiction sojourn, I’ve decided to feature NOBODY DIES, a 2004 novel from Namibian-born Zirk Van Den Berg, who moved to New Zealand in 1998. NOBODY DIES was Van Den Berg’s first story published in English - he published fiction and screenplays in Afrikaans while living in South Africa prior to emigrating to New Zealand. Interestingly, Van Den Berg told Iain Sharp of the Sunday Star-Times in 2004 that he moved his family from South Africa partially because of the violent crime there, and then he later ended up writing a crime novel set back there.

Published by Black Swan Crime (a division of Random House), NOBODY DIES is a gripping thriller that opens with a bang; a renegade female detective executes a man in her custody. Here’s the backcover blurb:

“Erica van der Linde has found the perfect way to make sure the witnesses in her police protection programme in Cape Town stay hidden. She kills them. As the criminals turned state witnesses have exited one life and not yet started another, there’s nobody to look for them.

But she hasn’t encountered anyone like Daniel Enslin before.

You’d hardly call him a criminal. An apathetic loner in a nothing job, Daniel gets his kicks by associating with Frank Redelinghuys, a dealer in all kinds of merchandise, unfettered by the normal rules of morality. But when Daniel witnesses Frank commit a murder, he feels compelled to do something about it.

He betrays Frank to his arch enemy, policeman Nic Acker, even though this puts his own life in danger. When the case against Frank collapses, Acker has no option but to put Daniel into the witness protection programme. With Erica to set up a new life for him, Daniel will be safe, at least...”

It certainly sounds like an intriguing premise. Until recently, the book was unavailable other than from libraries and secondhand stores (you might have stumbled across a copy or two squirrelled away in a bookstore somewhere, if you were incredibly lucky). However, van den Berg has now made the book available online, at Smashwords for just US$1.99. Complete with a new cover image (see left).

I've got my hands on a copy of the book, and from everything I've heard, you definitely should consider doing so too. NOBODY DIES inspired the New Zealand Listener to ask in 2004 whether Van Den Berg was "the best thriller writer in New Zealand", and the book was also rated one of the top 5 thrillers (internationally) of 2004, globally, by the New Zealand Herald.

And just last year Stephen Stratford, the head of judges for the literary-fiction focused NZ Post Book Awards (our Kiwi equivalent of the Booker Prize or Australia's Miles Franklin Award), said in an article by Mark Broatch in the Sunday Star-Times that he was "still waiting for a new novel from Zirk van den Berg whose outstanding Nobody Dies came out in 2004".

Have you been part of the Crime Fiction Alphabet? Which of my NZ inspired posts have been your favourites? Do you like the sound of NOBODY DIES? Of a thriller involving corrupt cops and the secret intricacies of witness protection? Have you read any South African set crime fiction? Comments welcome.


  1. Craig - I have to say how very impressed I am at the way you've shared Kiwi writers' work with us this whole time. I've learned so much about Kiwi crime fiction from your contributions. Thank you for that.

  2. Well done on your consistent highlighting of NZ crime fic writers Craig

  3. hi craig, in case you didn't read my other comment, pls contact me at shill@authorsolutions regarding the possibility of us sending you review copies of come of our authors.

    many thanks!