Hot sex and ice-cold killers abound in Peter Church's Crackerjack

Hot sex. Ice-cold killers. Both are much in evidence in 'Crackerjack', Peter Church's latest thriller, along with another toxic ingredient - the internet

10 April 2019 - 10:40 By Barbara Erasmus
by Peter Church.
'Crackerjack' by Peter Church.
Image: Lapa Publishers

Published in the Sunday Times (07/04/2019)

Crackerjack ****
Peter Church
Lapa Publishers, R275

Hot sex. Ice-cold killers. Both are much in evidence in Crackerjack, Peter Church's latest thriller, along with another toxic ingredient - the internet.

Before he started his writing career, Church was an IT hot-shot, and it shows. He takes readers to the heart of the dark web, where nothing is sacred and anything you say can and will be used against you. A virtual world with power to humiliate corporate business, to amass fortunes, to topple governments.

We meet his hero, Daniel Le Fleur, in a Sea Point gym, where he is involved in a minor altercation with a trainer who is fleecing an elderly client. We soon realise that Le Fleur won't have to resort to violence to settle the dispute - but he will win.

When he returns to his billionaire penthouse in Bantry Bay, it takes his impressive computer equipment less than a minute to locate and alter the records of the luckless trainer. 

Le Fleur is a reformed hacker with an enviable reputation in the world of cybercrime, which explains why he's contacted by Carla Vitale, who works for an international engineering company.

At the heart of the plot is Nial Townley, Vitale's revered boss and mentor whose crumpled Land Cruiser has been found at the bottom of Chapman's Peak. But where is the body? And where are the millions that have disappeared from the company accounts?

Le Fleur is still on parole for illegal hacking so it's crazy for him to get involved in a criminal enterprise on this scale. 

Vitale's company is in the throes of a deal in Venezuela, which has the most crooked government on the planet. Against his better judgement, Le Fleur agrees to help her. His penthouse is lonely. And she is very sexy.

Church soon has the players in place in a page-turning story featuring a range of dubious characters such as the executives of GALI, a multinational engineering conglomerate, greedy to take advantage of a weak government and currency.

Crackerjack was released in the US to favourable reviews, such as the New York Journal of Books which commends Church's strong, believable characters. One of Church's other strengths is his ability to conjure a visual picture - from an icy midnight swim in the Atlantic to a high-speed drive down Ou Kaapse Weg. Crackerjack has a complex plot with unexpected twists and turns.