I've read four of Kramer and Zondi novels, and I know of nothing else like them in crime fiction. The writing sparkles with the wit and concision of the best traditional mysteries even though the subject matter is sometimes as dark as that of the darkest hard-boileds. The social criticism is of a deftness that Stieg Larsson could never have managed if he'd written a thousand books, and the sympathetic eye for character is something like Andrea Camilleri's.
It helps that McClure had a dramatic background against which to set his stories: apartheid-era South Africa. They pair a white Afrikaner police lieutenant (Kramer) and his Zulu assistant (Zondi), and McClure does not spare the reader the harsh words that swirl around, about, and sometimes between the two.
"Perhaps the most surprising aspect of McClure's apartheid-era novels to readers almost forty years later," I wrote after reading The Steam Pig, "is the blend of breezy banter in the English style with acute portraits of the period's ugliness. The result may shock today's more sensitive readers, at least American ones, but I call it an impressive achievement."
So I'm excited about The Sunday Hangman. Here are two few samples that ought to give a fair idea why:
"The veld all around them was as parched as an old tennis ball and much the same color."and
"Tollie Erasmus looked at the room in which he was about to die, and saw there the story of his life. Nothing had ever turned out quite the way he'd imagined it."Good stuff, ja?
© Peter Rozovsky 2012