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Those Who Love Night by Wessel Ebersohn

Those Who Love Night

by Wessel Ebersohn

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Its not often one finds a South African author whose work is so exciting that one’s first action after reading the last page is to boot up the laptop and hunt down his back-list: Wessel Ebersohn is one such writer and his latest thriller, Those Who Love Night, is the book that had me trawling through Abe, Kalahari and Exclusive online.

When I read ‘Klara’s visitors’ over 20 years ago, I didn’t even realize Ebersohn was South African, let alone that he had already published three police procedural thrillers featuring the Jewish criminologist and prison psychologist Yudel Gordon – the first of which, A Lonely Place to Die [1979], received international acclaim.

Yudel was joined last year in The October Killings by the brilliant and beautiful young black lawyer Abigail Bukula and it is she, rather than her mentor, who dominates this latest story. In another departure from his norm, Ebersohn sets most of the action in Zimbabwe, a country which has more in common with the Apartheid era state than it does with the New South Africa.

Abigail receives a bewildering phone call from a lawyer in Harare informing her that the gifted writer Tony Makumba – of whom she has never heard despite being informed he is her first cousin – has been arrested and along with seven others locked in the notorious Chikurubi Prison.

Abigail lost family in the Gukuruhandi massacre in the early 80s and has an ambivalent relationship with Zimbabwe, a country she loves but which suffers under a despotic regime: she is inspired by the brilliance of Tony’s writing however to go to Harare and offer her help.

The atmosphere of repressed chaos, numbing paranoia and claustrophobic tension is brilliantly expressed with a palpable sense of threat looming over every action Abigail takes, from something as simple as entering her hotel bedroom to encountering one of the omnipresent road-blocks. .

The turmoil is evident on every level, influencing everything – even Abigail’s morality as she finds herself sexually infatuated by the charismatic and incredibly powerful Director Jonas Chunga of the notorious Zimbabwean Central Intelligence Organisation.

In tackling the subject of repression under an immoral dictatorship and the mortal threat to creativity under which writers like Tony Makumba suffer in Zimbabwe, Ebersohn can rely on memory rather than imagination because at one stage he too had had to go into hiding, smuggle his manuscript out of the country for publication, and see his work banned.

Betrayal, torture, assassination, death, intolerance, homosexuality, infidelity, cruelty and fear are major themes of Those Who Love Night [the time when throughout history the forces of terror have banged on the door] but, like Pandora’s Box, Hope shines through in the form of love, courage and forgiveness.

An excellent read – although possibly a little predictable in the unlikeness of it’s deliberately outré conclusion – this book is not only thrillingly exciting with an agreeably contemporary feel, it is well-written and enticingly ‘moreish’ ( )
  adpaton | Jan 10, 2011 |
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Abigail Bukula, a brilliant young lawyer, must race to save seven activists believed to be held at a notorious Zimbabwe prison.

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