Deon Meyer

June 28, 2012 Books

I love thrillers. It is my only dangerous addiction. When I find a new thriller writer it makes my day. A couple of months ago I read a review of Deon Meyer’s Trackers in some off-beat on-line magazine. I took a flyer and ordered the book. It is a gem. I immediately bought every one of his other books (you have to love Amazon!) and now have exhausted the available supply. I am undergoing withdrawal symptoms and have to wait for a new Meyer book. My experience is that the great thriller writers only publish one a year at best.

Meyer writes in Africaans and is translated intoEnglish. However some Africaans words are untranslatable and are left in the original language. Fortunately Jason Clarke who works for my wife is from South Africa so I can get a translation.

Trackers, as usual, has a protagonist, named Lemmer, who is a malformed loner, more anti-hero than hero, who lives mostly off the grid. In this case, way off the grid, out in the South African boondocks. Lemmer is on parole after serving time for manslaughter working as a bodyguard with Body Amour.

The plot weaves together organized crime in South Africa; the smuggling of arms, diamonds and wildlife; the uneasy alliance between South African intelligence and the CIA and even al-Qaida terrorism. It sounds a little ambitious, but he pulls it off.

The story opens with Lemmer assisting in the smuggling of a pair of black rhinos from Zimbabwe. Both the cargo and the mission are, however, more lethal than he imagines. Lemmer is soon desperately searching for the wildlife tracker (his female counterpart in many ways) Flea van Jaarsveld who has stolen evidence that could frame him for murder.

Flea is a real revelation, a bit of a mystery but very much like Lisbeth Salander from the Steig Larsson books. The good news is she is not some copy of Salander, like a number of authors have written, but a fascinating character who reminds you of her. Her specialty is tracking: first of animals, then later, and more dangerously, men. I can’t wait for Meyer to flesh out her character.

Meyer’s earlier books involve various officers of the South African Police. The stories are exciting to read and he uses many of the same cops in each story but a different one is featured so it doesn’t turn into a stale series.

Once you are finished with Trackers then go to Heart of the Hunter. It stars six-foot five-inch Thobela “Tiny” Mpayipheli a former assassin who now works in a garage. A friend is killed and Tiny has to rescue his daughter. Great story. Tiny is a man to be feared and wreaks havoc in a chase across South Africa.