Monday, December 19, 2011

New Zealand set crime by a South African hand

Back in 2009, in amongst my regular crime fiction-related browsing online (search for interesting crime fiction tidbits and happenings of both a New Zealand and international flavour), I stumbled across an intriguing South African author, Chris Marnewick, who had been shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize for a novel that was packed with crime content, and blended fact and fiction. The news got my attention for a couple of reasons: a 'crime novel' being shortlisted for a major literary award, and the fact that the author was a South African lawyer. For those who aren't aware, I am a former lawyer myself, and now currently work fulltime for a legal magazine.

Marnewick's novel, SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS, which examined the death penalty via the tale of a young warden who goes from caring for then executing condemned men to a killing spree that sees him face the gallows himself, also went on last year to win the K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award (which forms part of the South African Literary Awards), amongst other accolades.

Now, Marnewick has returned with another crime thriller, and this time he brings his talent and storytelling skills to New Zealand shores, with A SAILOR'S HONOUR, published by Umuzi in September. Here's the blurb:

Pierre de Villiers has walked a hard road. Tortured by his own army, his family killed, surviving cancer; his new life in New Zealand is supposed to bring him peace. But just when his life seems to be on an even keel, his daughter is kidnapped in Auckland and his brother-in-law's wife abducted in Durban. What possible common enemy might the brothers-in-law have? The clues to the riddle stretch from Nazi u-boats of Africa's coast to a sinister Third Force pulling the strings of darkest South African history. Determined to defend his family. De Villiers is cast opposite "the major" in a life-or-death battle raging from Auckland to Durban and Hamburg. And on a bigger stage, the major's Force is not done yet; its final statement will be its most violent."

It certainly sounds intriguing. And it's always interesting to see foreign authors using New Zealand as a setting, and to see how they utilise and evoke my home country - a place that probably seems a touch exotic and definitely at the ends of the earth for most people.

You can read a recent interview with Marnewick on the Crime Beat blog, here.

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