Heart of the Hunter by
pbk out April 04
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'
This is not a crime book as such, but a semi-political thriller; a good
read, especially if you are interested in motor-cycles.
ex Home Office Pathologist and author of the highly acclaimed Crowner John series)