Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bad Company: Short fiction from South Africa

The first days after a crime-fiction convention are a strain on the mind; one never knows what to read first. Compounding the Bouchercon plenitude, I've done a bit of secondhand shopping at Philadelphia's Whodunit Books since I got back.

One of my favorite Bouchercon pickups, and one not easily available in the U.S., is Bad Company, a collection of short stories by South African crime writers. I got my copy from Stanley Trollip, one half of the writing team known as Michael Stanley. Trollip was a jovial presence on Bouchercon's "Murder at the Edge of the Map" panel, a fashion hit in his stylized-hippopotamus T-shirt, and an enthusiastic promoter of South African crime writing who had brought ten copies of the collection to sell.

Stanley's own story, "Neighbours," is an intimate tale of death in a village, relations among neighbors, and the strengths and dangers of living in a community where everyone knows everyone else. Among other things, it makes elegant, unobtrusive use of cliffhangers.

Deon Meyer's "The Nostradamus Document" is a police procedural with a real punch, something like Ed McBain's 87th Precinct stories, but with greater focus on the dangerously intertwined personal and professional lives of one cop, Detective Sgt. Fransman Dekker. The story contains bursts of hard-hitting, elliptical dialogue, all the more impressive since what we read is a translation; Meyer writes in Afrikaans. A high vyf to his translator, uncredited here, as near as I can tell.

More to come the more I read.

(Read more about Bad Company and about the South African crime-fiction scene at Book Southern Africa's Crime Beat Web site.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger Linkmeister said...

Oh, it's an anthology. I thought for a moment that Paul Rodgers had written a memoir.

October 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You laugh, but when I was looking up references to this book, I found books with titles like "The Story of Bad Company and Free."

I liked those bands when I was young, but I'm suprised anyone would have thought it worthwhile to write books about them.

October 27, 2009  

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