BOOK BITES | John Sandford, Deon Meyer, Diane Setterfield

01 December 2019 - 00:00 By sunday times books
'Neon Prey', 'The Last Hunt', 'Once Upon A River'.
'Neon Prey', 'The Last Hunt', 'Once Upon A River'.
Image: Supplied

Published in the Sunday Times (01/12/2019)

Neon Prey ***
John Sandford
Simon & Schuster, R305

Clayton Deese is a revolting human being. He murders people for money and eats bits of them, throwing choice cuts on the grill. Their graves populate the jungle outside his cabin in Louisiana, which US Marshals stumble upon after the seemingly small-time muscle-for-hire skips bail after botching a job. Enter Lucas Davenport, suave super-cop. Sandford has been writing for 30 years, with two books published under his real name, John Roswell Camp. He created the Sandford pseudonym for the Prey series, in which there have been 29 novels. You would expect that Sandford, and/or his electric blue-eyed cop, would be jaded by now. But, as I've written before, if anything, they are getting better. Neon Prey is racy and witty, shocking and gripping. William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

The Last Hunt ****
Deon Meyer
Hachette, R285

Set against the backdrop of state capture, now sober alcoholic Captain Benny Griessel and his partner Vaughn Cupido of the Hawks investigate the murder of a man thrown from the Blue Train in the middle of the Karoo. One clue they have is that the victim, who was once with VIP protection, called a high-ranking official in Pretoria shortly before his death. But then the case is closed from higher up as a suicide. Daniel Darrett has escaped a violent past to live a quiet life as a carpenter in Bordeaux, France. Fleeing SA as a teen he received training in MK camps in Angola. His marksman skills were noted by his Russian handlers and he was groomed to become an international hitman known as Umzingeli, the hunter. But that was years ago. Now he is called on for one more job. The final link is the death of an elderly ANC comrade in suburban Cape Town in an apparent suicide. How does this connect to the "captured" president and his Indian cronies who bled the country of billions of rands? Meyer weaves an enthralling plot peopled with his familiar, likeable characters, to make this an absorbing novel. Gabrielle Bekes

Once Upon A River *****
Diane Setterfield
Doubleday, R290

The opening paragraphs give the reader the sense that this is a story of magic, and it is, but also it is not. It's a beautifully told, genuinely poignant story of a little girl who drowns in the Thames and comes back to life. It's a tale about people and their lives and loves and fears, in particular, the three families who are impacted by the child's existence when she turns out to belong to no-one known along the river. A gentle surreality threads its way across the pages, reminding the reader that even in the most mundane there is a certain kind of magic. Noluthando Ncube @BeautysDaughter