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Steele’s Book Reviews
Dead Before Dying and Devil’s Peak by Deon Meyer
Deadly Pleasures Magazine (Spring 2010, Issue 61) Reprinted below with permission.
One of DP's faithful subscribers and sometime contributor (who also helps choose the nominees for the Barry Thriller Award), Steele Curry is also a huge fan of Deon Meyer. Here are his reviews of two of Deon's earlier works: DEAD BEFORE DYING (Little, Brown, $24.95). Rating: A+ For sheer reading pleasure, it’s hard to beat Deon Meyer’s books set in post-apartheid South Africa.
Written with verve and punch, DEAD BEFORE DYING is a tale of both redemption and revenge, featuring Captain Mat Joubert of the Murder and Robbery Squad in Cap Town’s Police Service. Joubert, a shy, bear-sized man, is assailed by chronic grief over the loss of his wife, an undercover cop shot “in the line of duty.” Joubert’s newly appointed supervisor reluctantly assigns a murder case to him as his last chance to remain on the force and prove himself.
The plot of DEAD BEFORE DYING roars along with a fabulous supporting cast that includes a serial killer using an antique German Mauser Broomhandle pistol to dispatch victims, a suave bank robber in multiple disguises (who might also be the serial killer), an over-sexed female teenager, a psychic imported from England, a lusty criminologist and an opera-loving psychologist who Joubert is forced to see for therapy, plus a number of colorful fellow policemen each with his own demons. Yes, Meyer is definitely a master storyteller with a sense of humor. in “fine” or “near fine” condition.

DEAD BEFORE DYING is Meyer’s third book to be published in the U.S. by Little, Brown & Co. after HEART OF THE HUNTER (2004) and DEAD AT DAYBREAK (2005). Mat Joubert was also one of the main characters in the latter book. Both DEAD BEFORE DYING and DEAD AT DAYBREAK were superbly translated from Afrikaans by Madeleine van Biljon. Rating: A+
deadly pleasures magazineDEVIL’S PEAK by Deon Meyer (Hodder, £14.99). Rating: A+ South African author, Deon Meyer, delivers an exceptional thriller in DEVIL’S PEAK. The growing number of children abused or murdered in South Africa has become a national tragedy, made even more serious by the country’s AIDS epidemic. When Thobela Mpayipheli’s adopted young son is killed by two drugged-up men who escape from prison after being arrested, Thobela decidesto wage a vigilante campaign under the alias of “Artemis” using a historical long-bladed stabbing knife, known as an assegai, to cut the throats of individuals known to have committed such crimes against children. By doing so, Thobela hopes the publicity will deter others from murdering or abusing children in his country.
Policeman Benny Griessel is assigned the case of bringing Artemis to justice. An alcoholic, Griessel is on the verge of losing both his family and career so this is Griessel’s last chance for redemption. Griessel is making no progress in solving the case until Thobela selects a Columbian drug smuggler to be one of his victims. The end result brings the two men together in a stunning climax at the conclusion of the story.
DEVIL’S PEAK is Meyer’s fourth book and his writing continues to get stronger and stronger. Thobela, a former freedom fighter, was a major character in Meyer’s first two books, HEART OF THE HUNTER (2004) and DEAD AT DAYBREAK (2005). Griessel was one of the central characters in Meyer’s third book, DEAD BEFORE DYING (2006). The quality of Meyer’s characterization, plotting and description of life in postapartheid South Africa in all four books clearly establishes this author in the upper tier of today’s international mystery and thriller writers.
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