Tangled Web UK Review May 2004
File Updated: 05/05/04

Buy at Amazon Price Heart of the Hunter Heart of the Hunter by Deon Meyer
pbk out April 04 (NEL) at 6.99

A relatively unusual locale for a 'chase' thriller, this being set in today's South Africa. A former hit-man for the ANC in the days of the anti-apartheid 'Struggle', trained in Russia and East Germany, Thobela Mpayipheli is now a peaceable man, working for a BMW franchise in Cape Town. He recevies a phone call from the daughter of an old associate who asks for his help, as her father is held captive in Lusaka and will be killed unless a computer disc said to contain highly sensitive political data is delivered there within seventy-two hours. As a matter of honour, though against his inclinations, Thobela agrees, but a highly sophisticated governmental security outfit, run by Janina Mentz, intercepts the phone calls and tried to arrest Thobela at the airport.
He escapes and 'borrows' a powerful BMW GS motorcycle on which he attempts to make the many-hundred mile journey to Zambia. A South African version of the SAS does its best to stop him, helicopters and all, and most of the book swings between the journey that Thobela is making, the machinations of those trying to stop him and the angst that Janina Mentz suffers back in her headquarters control room.
I lost the plot half-way through, as the machinations became more convoluted than John le Carre's, but I continued to read on and enjoy the powerful writing and descriptive text about this epic motorcycle journey - which in a postscript, the author says he covered most of himself, for the sake of authenticity. One needs a detailed atlas of southern Africa to follow the route - and a phonetic dictionary of Zulu and Xhosa names, as one drawback I found was the struggle to even mentally pronounce some of the characters' names.
This is not a crime book as such, but a semi-political thriller; a good read, especially if you are interested in motor-cycles.

( Bernard Knight ex Home Office Pathologist and author of the highly acclaimed Crowner John series)

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