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Wie Met Vuur Speel by Deon Meyer
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Wie Met Vuur Speel

by Deon Meyer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Benny Griessel (5)

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ICARUS is the latest of Deon Meyer’s intelligent, accessible thrillers set in South Africa, offering his usual mix of local colour and universal themes.

The core mystery involves an investigation into the death of Ernst Richter, a young man whose chief success in life was the creation of a website providing alibis to cheating spouses. This provides an ample suspect pool, especially when it appears that hackers have accessed the firm’s client data and are prepared to release the names of high profile customers.

The investigative thread of the story features Meyer’s recurring characters that make up the Hawks; an elite team within the police force. I like the way Meyer depicts the whole team and its various personalities and doesn’t concentrate entirely on a single detective. In this outing Vaughan Cupido is in charge of the investigation while the usual lead, Benny Griessel, is struggling. At the outset of the novel he is called to a scene where a fellow officer he knows has killed himself and his family. This leads to Griessel losing his sobriety (again) and his investigative focus. I must admit to groaning a bit at this turn of events as I am a bit tired of reading about people battling addiction in the middle of my crime fiction but to be fair Meyer does handle this aspect of his character’s life very realistically.

At the same time as the police investigation is unfolding a local wine farmer is talking to his lawyer and the transcript of that conversation offers some of the story’s twists and turns. At first it is not clear how – or even if – the two threads are connected but the parallel storylines do eventually draw together. Meyer is a master at this complex, multi-pronged approach to storytelling and in ICARUS he proves it once again.

For audio book fans some author/narrator combinations become more than the sum of their parts and for me this is never more true than when Deon Meyer’s writing is paired with Saul Reichlin’s narration. Both bring their particular talents to the art of storytelling and I love that I get to hear all the dialects and idioms Meyer’s books are sprinkled with. At which point I should also mention the excellent translation from Afrikaans by K.L. Seegers who always seems to know just how much of the local language can be left in the text without confusing woefully monolingual readers such as myself. I know we tend to think of writing as a solitary profession but it’s always good to be reminded that the production of a finished novel – especially a good one – is a collaborative effort.

ICARUS is not my absolute favourite of this wonderful series: Benny Griessel falling off the wagon and a smidgen too much exposition about the history of South African wine were my stumbling points. But even when he is ever so slightly off his game Deon Meyer is still a top tier author. The book is fast-paced, packed with terrific characters and topical at both a local and international level. I’m already looking forward to Saul Reichlin reading me the next adventure in this series.
  bsquaredinoz | Dec 11, 2017 |
Deon Meyer's "Icarus" is terrific. This is Meyer's 11th novel, the 5th in the "Bennie" series. I have read all of his stuff and my recollection is that I have rated all of his books 4 or 5. Up until now I felt his stand alone "Blood Safari" was his best. It has a scene in it that still gives me the creeps (read it, you'll know the scene I mean, no hints). But "Icarus" surpasses even that excellent book. Though it's part of a series, it reads very well as a stand-alone, so if you haven't read any Meyer, jump on this book now. So, what's so great about it.?

To start with, a fantastic cast of characters. The Capetown police detective team is a mash of nine or ten members, all male except for the boss, a mix of white and black, each with their own unique strengths and challenges, eg Capt Moorwillem Liebenberg resembles George Clooney. Benny Greisl is an alcoholic, on the wagon for over 600 days, at least when the story begins. A great plot - the Founder/CEO of a high tech business is missing, but soon unearthed from a shallow grave following a heavy rain. His company, Alibi.com, provides philandering spouses with documented "evidence" of their whereabouts on questionable occasions. There's a good bit of humor, and a lighter feel to this Meyer book than most. For example, when the team realizes that this case will get a lot more attention than most they speculate that it eventually become a movie and they start to cast it, Chris Rock would be Vaughn Cupido, Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper would be forensic experts. Lots of good tension, the story moves along at a brisk pace, and some very good cliff hangers at the end of many chapters. One other huge plus for "Icarus" is that It shows how a team of detectives solve a crime and not one Lone Ranger smarter and more handsome than all the others, and so it interjected a sense of reality that many other crime fiction novels do not. And it has a nice bit of romance. I also enjoyed what I call enhanced reading - checking out some of the locales on Google Maps was fun and educational. Ditto for a Glossary in the back; check out the Africaans expressions. I came away with three favorite new words (bliksem is one of them, kak is another, and never mind the third). What's missing? - thankfully, some of the violence and blood that courses through previous books.

What didn't I like? Bennie's drinking has been a big issue in previous books. I thought it has been over-done. I was bored with it. So when it raised its head once again in this story, I got turned off a bit. Though it went on longer here than what I would have preferred, it eventually resolved itself in a satisfactory way. But I've had enough of it.

According to fantasticfiction.com Meyer's next book will deal with a fever that sweeps the globe and its aftermath. What a great idea ! Looking forward to it.

The ebook was $9.99 - I will not pay more than that for an ebook! ( )
1 vote maneekuhi | Feb 11, 2017 |
Deon Meyer is South Africa’s preeminent mystery/thriller writer and something of a wonder. His books have a richness and specificity that bring South Africa (and crimes committed there) vividly to life. This installment of the Benny Greissel series braids several strands of mystery into a single blood-red cord of baling twine from the wine country of Stellenbosch.

Meyer often posts on his website photos of the locales, restaurants, buildings he uses in his novels, and he did in the case of Icarus as well. The site of the action is South Africa’s western Cape near Cape Town.


A large storm in December reveals the body of an internet entrepreneur buried in the sand of Blouberg Strand. Ernst Richter ran Alibi.com, a South African-based website based on the success of AshleyMadison.com, a company promising discretion when arranging infidelities. The manner of his death ties him firmly to the wine country in Stellenbosch, but in the weeks leading to the Christmas holidays, we are turned in many directions, often away from the truth.

Meyer often has several threads working at once in his novels, and this book is no exception. Deliciously, Meyer shares the personalities of the police and how their prejudices, weaknesses, and particular skills influence an investigation. Benny Griessel struggles with alcohol addiction and falls off the wagon when a colleague dies tragically. The description of his ever-present desire and of his failure is agonizingly real.

Griessel’s colleague, Jamie Keyter, will do just about anything to be in the limelight of newspaper reporting, even if it means selling his team down the river. Another colleague, Vaughn Cupido, falls hard for someone he questions during the murder investigation.

While the murder investigation plays itself out, we are treated to a plausible explanation of the unreasonably high subscription numbers of Alibi.com (and by association the AshleyMadison.com), and a realistic scenario for the sites’ growth and financial requirements. Finally, we also get a fascinating short history of wine production in South Africa.

Meyer keeps readers off-balance throughout the novel with rapid and abrupt shifts between strands: the quiet droning of a man relating his family’s genealogy; the drunken stumbling of Benny Griessel on the edge of losing everything; the start-stop of an investigation where so many have things they wish to hide.

If you haven’t already enjoyed Deon Meyer’s oeuvre, feel free to start here. It is often years between novels, and to discover a new Meyer book is an event. Add Meyer to your list and get a look at a whole different outlook. This book will be published October 6, 2015 by Grove Atlantic, but I am telling you about it now because it is being offered as a giveaway currently on Goodreads. I definitely recommend you sign up.



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  bowedbookshelf | Aug 18, 2015 |
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Seegers, K. L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0798171146, Paperback)

Die lyk van Ernst Richter spoel oop in die duine anderkant Parklands - dié Ernst Richter, baas van die omstrede Alibi.co.za, wat 'n maand gelede verdwyn het. Die saak sukkel; boonop het Griessel weer aan die suip gegaan en is Cupido verlief. Dan begin 'n jong wynboer bieg voor 'n advokaat in Kaapstad en keer die hele saak op sy kop . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:37:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A week before Christmas, a young photographer discovers a plastic-wrapped corpse amidst the sand dunes north of Cape Town. It doesn't take long for the police to identify the body as that of Ernst Richter--the tech whiz founder of Alibi, an Internet service that provides unfaithful partners with sophisticated cover stories to hide their affairs. Assigned to the case is lead detective Benny Griessel--but unfortunately, his two years of sobriety have been undone by a tragedy involving a former colleague. He is determined to quit the force, but the take-no-sass Major Mbali Kaleni, now his boss, wants Griessel on the case. The murder has already been the subject of fierce media speculation, with questions swirling about the potential for motive: could the perpetrator be one of the countless jilted spouses? An aggrieved client? Before the week is out, it becomes clear that the motive was something bigger than an affair, and as the pool of suspects widens, Griessel must either quit drinking and close the case, or risk losing everythin he loves.--Adapted from book jacket.… (more)

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