Angela Makholwa pens gripping thriller sequel to ‘Red Ink’

05 March 2024 - 13:42 By Margaret von Klemperer
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'The Reed Dance Stalker' by Angela Makholwa.
'The Reed Dance Stalker' by Angela Makholwa.
Image: Image: Supplied

The Reed Dance Stalker
Angela Makholwa
Pan Macmillan

This is Angela Makholwa’s sequel to her 2007 novel Red Ink, which has been made into a television series and is available on Showmax.

The Reed Dance Stalker is set not long after the previous novel, with South Africa gripped by the run up to the official draw for the 2010 World Cup. Lucy Khambule, the main character of Red Ink, is proud of the success of her book on serial killer Napoleon Dingiswayo and is flying high as part of the PR team around the events leading up to the draw.

But things are about to go very wrong: Dingiswayo and two other convicts escape from their C Max prison. Of course, Lucy is terrified, but then a burnt body is found, hidden in the jail, with a suicide note purporting to be by Dingiswayo. (If this has similarities to a real case going through the courts it’s probably no coincidence.) But, though the authorities insist Dingiswayo is dead, Lucy and her friend detective Justice Morapedi have lingering doubts.

Then Lucy finds herself being stalked on Facebook by someone who claims to be an ex-convict who would like to help her with research for her new book on how ex-convicts can be rehabilitated. Meanwhile, who is the man in Swaziland who killed two young women at the reed dance? And who is the Hunter who is on his trail? Makholwa builds the tension, which is considerable, by not identifying the stalker or the Swaziland killer until far into the book.

As the novel builds towards the official preliminary Fifa draw in Durban, Makholwa ups the pace and the drama. I would warn the squeamish there are things in this novel that are pretty graphic, unpalatable and disturbing as we learn the identity of the — extremely — nasty people. It’s hardly a spoiler to say there are two who both have their sights on Lucy, and then there is the Hunter, who is also deeply evil, even if he is ostensibly on the side of right.

The Reed Dance Stalker is a pacy, gripping local thriller and Makholwa has created an interesting central character who is well fleshed out and believable. But the reader needs to be prepared for pretty gruesome interludes along the way. South Africa is a very violent place, and there is no respite from that here.

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