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The International Writers Magazine:Book Review

Trackers by Deon Meyer
Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN: 978-1-444-72366-3
Sam North review
Trackers presents quite a challenge for a reviewer.  A novel with three distinct strands and three or perhaps more central characters to each section means you have to be on your toes as Meyer weaves three unconnected story strands together with skill and prescience.


If you are just picking up a Deon Meyer thriller for the first time, I’d start with Dead Before Dying featuring Mat Joubert who takes the final slot of Trackers here or at least Blood Safari featuring the bodyguard Lameer, who also takes up the mid-half of Trackers.  Meyer’s novels are addictive, especially for an ex-Capetonian living a long time in exile.  Tough, cynical and driven, it displays an acute insight into post-apartheid South Africa and all those who now live in it – dealing with an explosion of crime and corruption.  His characters like Lameer or Becker are tough Afrikaners who can take a beating as well as dish one out.  These tough blokes are the guys you see playing Rugby right now in New Zealand and they don’t necessarily stop when the bullets start flying.  They fall for petite slim women with a tragic past who are secretly as tough as the men inside.  The sex is always tremendous, and there’s also a black sleek BMW cruising somewhere – Meyer knows his cars, he used to work for BMW.

Trackers is political and relevant.  These are changing times and Islamic radicals are grouping.  Few people realise that Islam is as old as Christianity in the Cape due to the slave trade from Malaysia hundreds of years before.  This novel is about gathering information in a changing political landscape – fear of consolidation of various Intel gathering in SA and monitoring the threat that might come as South Africa hosts the World Cup.  Yes the book suffers a little for being behind the events curve (it came out in Afrikaans first) and the World Cup is long gone, but the thrill of the chase is still there and the stench of corruption that comes from Zimbabwe all the way to the gangs of the Cape Flats is very much prevalent today.  The shift in poltical power within the ANC itself forms a backdrop and everything and everyone is for sale.

We meet and follow Milla, a new recruit to the intelligence world fleeing an abusive husband and son.  She’s up for a new life and into it comes a tough Afrikaner who is an ex-Blackwater operative she is suppose to be monitoring but falls for.  Is he CIA?  He claims to be after some money stolen from his highjacked car and isn’t afraid of anyone.  All the people she works with assume CIA and they begin to bug Milla who foolishly believes her affair is secret.

Lameer, the bodyguard, is hiding out in Loxton where he feels in control of his life, is hired to provide security for two valuable black Rhinos from Zimbabwe to the Cape.  Almost immediately something goes wrong and Lameer realises that he’s being taken for a ride in more ways than one by one of the most interesting characters, a young white female tracker/vet called Cornel van Jaarsveld.  Yep, she is one of those slim, flawed beauties who knows how to play in a man’s world. The man who hired him isn't exactly honest either. One thing we know from Blood Safari, you don't want to upset Lameer...

Then there’s Mat Joubert.  It seems to be a simple case of a missing man on his first day as a private dick working for a PI company.  The wife is desperate for news and he feels obliged to track her husband down.

How all these threads connect and weave a sinister tale of lawlessness reveal the new South Africa to be just as chaotic as modern Russia.  If there is any author to compare Deon Meyer to it is Martin Cruz Smith and that’s very high praise from me.
Read Trackers, catch the surprise at the end, and enjoy the incredible detail and vivid portraits of a new society suffering growth pains.
© Sam North September 2011
author of Another Place to Die and Diamonds - The Rush of '72 both now available as e-books

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