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Devil's Peak by Deon Meyer (2004)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Had I known this was the first book in the Bennie Griessel-series, I would have started reading this one. In the following books I missed Griessel's background, that was explained in this one. Now question marks have disappeared and gaps have been filled.

The style of writing, with the sudden, often every alinea, changes of character and hence of scenery, is still annoying me. I get confused, lose track of where the story is and I don't like that.

Apart from that, the story the book tells is a good one, with an ending I had not expexted. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Aug 11, 2014 |
Deon Meyer has been on my list of authors to read for quite a long time now, and I chose to start with Devil’s Peak because it’s the first of the Benny Griessel series. It does feature a character from an earlier novel in a central role, so my plans to be unspoiled by starting with this book were foiled. I was very impressed with the beginning: the writing was good, the characters were very complicated, but by the end I was disappointed with the plot.

Griessel is an inspector leading an investigation into the murders of people accused of hurting children. He’s an alcoholic policeman with marital troubles, which is a story I’ve read before, but his experience as a policeman both before and after apartheid and the differences in those organizations (it was the Force during apartheid and the Service after) made the novel stand out to me. Meyer divides the story among Griessel the investigator, Tiny Mpayipheli the killer, and a young woman who is a sex worker who is making some sort of confession to a minister.

It’s an interesting structure with interesting characters, but a couple things bothered me: First, it’s a vigilante story. I’m not very interested in this theme (I’m almost as tired of vigilantes as I am of serial killers) even though this book features the twist that there is a vigilante in a country that recently abolished the death penalty. Second, the final fifty pages falter plot-wise. It features a plot twist that I see all too often in thrillers (I’m trying to avoid spoilers), and the last batch of antagonists is a very cruel and violent crew who aren’t really developed as characters.

I saw a lot of promise in the first half of the book, and I hope that other Meyer books don’t use such overused plots.
  rkreish | Aug 10, 2014 |
In present-day South Africa three stories unfold in parallel . Christine explains to a patient Minister what led to her becoming a prostitute while Benny, an alcoholic police officer, has one last-ditch attempt to salvage his marriage and career. At the same time Thobela, a former freedom-fighter, is devastated when his adopted son is killed as an innocent bystander to a robbery and he turns to a life of vengeance.

This book reminded me of Peter Temple's The Broken Shore. Although they're set on different continents both books stretch the boundaries of traditional crime fiction and use the genre to demonstrate wider social issues in an understated way. And, like Temple, Meyer paints the most spectacular pictures with often only a handful of words, as with the sentence

"Beyond George the houses of the wealthy sat like fat ticks against the dunes, silently competing for a better sea view".

The book is littered with such startlingly clear images that make it easy to visualise the people never met and the places never visited.

At the beginning of the book I almost groaned audibly at the thought of yet another drunken copper (I've lost count of how many I've met over the years) but Meyer's depiction of the alcoholic's constant struggle with his demons is the most eloquently heart-wrenching character development I've read in a long time and I was soon internally cheering Benny's day-by-day efforts along. In fact Meyer takes his time, and ours, establishing all three characters and their separate, but ultimately linked stories. In a lesser writer's hands this would be annoying but here provides a solid foundation for what otherwise could be an unbelievable or far-fetched climax. Instead the stories are tantalisingly built to their inevitable but gripping combination and resolution.

While I won't pretend that one book can give a definitive view of such a mammoth thing as post-apartheid South Africa I think a good book can provide a valid snapshot of a time and place that helps define the bigger picture. All three characters struggle with details of 'the new South Africa' in very real ways that made me think more deeply than I've done before about what the removal of the apartheid system might have been like to live through from a variety of perspectives.

I learned since reading this book that while not strictly part of a series there are other books featuring some of these characters however I didn't once have the sense I was missing something by not having read anything else by this author. The book works entirely as a suspense-filled standalone novel which is haunting, unpredictable and utterly absorbing. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Book Description: From rising South African thriller writer Deon Meyer, a gripping suspense novel about revenge, forgiveness, and the race to catch a trained killer.

A young woman makes a terrible confession to a priest. An honorable man takes his own revenge for an unspeakable tragedy. An aging inspector tries to get himself sober while taking on the most difficult case of his career. From this beginning, Deon Meyer weaves a story of astonishing complexity and suspense, as Inspector Benny Griessel faces off against a dangerous vigilante who has everything on his side, including public sympathy.

A gruesome abuse case has hit the newsstands, and one man has taken it upon himself to stand up for the children of Cape Town. When the accused is found stabbed through the heart by spear, it's only the beginning of a string of bloody murders - and of a dangerous dilemma for detective Griessel. The detective is always just one step behind as someone slays the city's killers. But the paths of Griessel and the avenger collide when a young prostitute lures them both into a dangerous plan - and the two find themselves with a heart-stopping problem that no system of justice could ever make right.


My Review: For once it's a good thing I don't keep good track of who it was suggested I read something. Whoever suggested this book to me: Don't fess up or there will be split lips and black eyes in your immediate future.

I hated this reading experience. Hated it. Fathers with murdered children, children in jeopardy that they can only desperately struggle to save, oh my bloomin' garden I was hit from every emotional angle and then smacked from behind and then misdirected into several dark corners and therein kneecapped. I started reading the book and, six and a half hours and one piddle break later, emerged on the other side of the dust jacket with bloody stumps in place of my ground-away teeth, hurting belly from all the unaccustomed muscle-clenching, and a serious need for a shower and hair wash to rid myself of the stress-sweat stink.

I am still in a state of high dudgeon at being made to participate in the shenanigans surrounding vigilante justice that I can only say I approve of (oh how that hurts to type) and police corruption scandalously indifferently treated (pause for blood to stop boiling over) and a miserable alcoholic a-hole with a serious need to destroy, himself his life the world, whatever comes into range, who happens to be the one being Diogenes would light up with that damn lamp...!

So. Unless you want to be lifted from the confines of your safe little rut, smacked into walls and hit with unbearably terrifying images of loss and its unending damage, beaten with the sensory overload of immersion in a landscape and a culture alien and familiar and overwhelmingly pungently vibrantly present, don't even think of reading this book.

Poor you, if you don't. ( )
3 vote richardderus | Dec 9, 2012 |
I pulled this book out of my TBR pile when I heard that the BBC and hired Sean Bean to star in the BBC mystery production of this title. That in itself was enough to make me read it, but up until about 2/3's of the way through the book I wondered why. Up to that point it was a fairly standard police procedural with a prototype hero that had been better done by other authors. Wallander comes to mind. Then, when I thought I knew where it was going, all of a sudden, the plot got twisty on me. From that point on I could not put the book down.

Meyer builds this story slowly, ... from desperate pieces, in much the same way as Kate Atksinson does in the early Jackson Brodie series. Meyer takes the stories of three different people and weaves these seemingly unrelated pieces into a whole connected story that evolves and eventually engrosses the reader. For the patient reader the wait is worth it, but I am afraid that many people won't wait that long, and therein lies the rub. Meyer writes in Afrikaans and the books have to be translated. (as far as I can tell this is a good translation) This makes him an important new voice in the world of literature. I am happy to recommend this book to readers and will read more of his books. ( )
2 vote benitastrnad | Jul 28, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031601785X, Hardcover)

From rising South African thriller writer Deon Meyer, a gripping suspense novel about revenge, forgiveness, and the race to catch a trained killer. A young woman makes a terrible confession to a priest. An honorable man takes his own revenge for an unspeakable tragedy. An aging inspector tries to get himself sober while taking on the most difficult case of his career. From this beginning, Deon Meyer weaves a story of astonishing complexity and suspense, as Inspector Benny Griessel faces off against a dangerous vigilante who has everything on his side, including public sympathy.
A gruesome abuse case has hit the newsstands, and one man has taken it upon himself to stand up for the children of Cape Town. When the accused is found stabbed through the heart by spear, it's only the beginning of a string of bloody murders - and of a dangerous dilemma for detective Griessel. The detective is always just one step behind as someone slays the city's killers. But the paths of Griessel and the avenger collide when a young prostitute lures them both into a dangerous plan - and the two find themselves with a heart-stopping problem that no system of justice could ever make right.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:46 -0400)

In the aftermath of a gruesome child abuse case that has caught the attention of the media, Inspector Benny Griessel struggles to maintain his sobriety in order to bring down a vigilante killer who has won the sympathy of the public.

(summary from another edition)

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