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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seven Days by Deon Meyer

48. – 680.) Seven Days by Deon Meyer – Captain Bennie Griessel of the elite Hawks unit of the SAPS (South African Police Services) crashed at 45. After years of his alcohol abuse his wife ended their marriage. With his life in shambles his superiors gave him a final chance but he would have to stop drinking. Griessel quit. As the book opens he has not had a drink for 226 days. He now lives in a tiny apartment with a few clothes. He is working to reassemble his life. He has met the singer Alexa Barnard at AA, another recovering alcoholic, and a tentative relationship has begun. This fragile existence is thrown into turmoil.
He is made the lead investigator into the second investigation of the death of Hanneke Sloet, a lovely young lawyer. The initial investigation had been unsuccessful. Now anonymous emails are threatening the police if they do not arrest the killer. The writer asserts the police are corrupt and concealing the killer, a communist. When the writer shoots a random police officer the whole police department is made available for the investigation.

The same evening Barnard, overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity, starts drinking again. Griessel stays with her overnight to attempt to return her to sobriety.

Griessel wants to help Barnard but his time is consumed by the investigation for the sniper, dubbed Solomon by the press because of quotes from the Bible in his emails, has vowed to shoot an officer each day.

Griessel hesitates a few minutes before reading the personal documents collected about Sloet:

Sloet would become flesh and blood, a person with a life, with emotions and regrets and few secrets. It would rob him of his distance, his objectivity, it would all become that bit more personal. That was where the trouble lay, the root of the evil. Because he knew what came next. The case had been easier from the start. He hadn’t been at the scene of the murder. He hadn’t stood beside her, and seen the terrible fragility of the female body, her expression caught at the moment of death. He hadn’t smelled the blood and perfume and decomposition. He hadn’t lived her last moments with her in his mind, felt her acute fear of the darkness of death, or heard the silent scream they all uttered when they lost that final grip on life.

As he looks into Sloet’s life there is no immediate focus point for someone to kill her. Her last serious relationship ended almost a year earlier. She is doing very well at work. Her family and friends cannot identify a danger to her. She was totally dedicated to her work and rising quickly in the law firm.

Yet the killer must have been well known to her. She opened the door and there are no defensive wounds or any sign of a struggle.

Griessel finds himself in an unknown world when he tries to understand her work. She has been working on a complex multi-billion rand business deal under the Black Economic Empowerment program. With the vast sums involved he finds connections to people he would not have expected to be players in major finance.

As the police seek to penetrate the world of big South African finance Solomon’s daily deadline adds an almost unbearable urgency.

Griessel wants to do more for Barnard but can barely find the time to leave messages.

He is further challenged by the need to explore Sloet’s participation in the current social media of our day. While in his alcoholic mist he lost touch with developments such as Facebook and Twitter.

I found it interesting how the SAPS of the 21st Century has the formerly segregated white, black and coloured of South Africa now working together as opposed to the mysteries of Malla Nunn of the mid-1950’s where only white officers were in charge.

It is a rare book that combines mystery and thriller with equal skill. When I read earlier this year Taken by Robert Crais and Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson, those accomplished mystery writers had written excellent thrillers but the mystery had been lost. Meyer maintains the pace of a thriller with the puzzle of a mystery.

The first book of Meyer I read was Blood Safari. It was a good book but no better to me. The second was Trackers which I found an excellent book. With Seven Days he has ascended to a great book. There are fascinating characters in the midst of a strong mystery with Solomon day by day ratcheting up the tension. I expect Seven Days will be a contender for a slew of book awards. (Oct. 28/12)

4 comments:

  1. Bill - Thanks for this excellent review. I couldn't agree with you more that Meyer is a highly talented writer of thrillers. It is indeed very difficult to combine the best elements of thriller and mystery but Meyer achieves that - and well-developed characters too.

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  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. A year ago I had never heard of Meyer and now he is among my favourite contemporary crime writers.

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  3. I liked this book, not perhaps as much as 'Trackers' but still a good read. I have his earlier books to read sometime.

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  4. Sarah: Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed reading your review. I will be interested in your thoughts on earlier books.

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