A Beautiful Place to Die: An Emmanuel Cooper Mystery
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Award-winning screenwriter Malla Nunn delivers a stunning and darkly romantic crime novel set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper -- a man caught up in a time and place where racial tensions and the raw hunger for power make life very dangerous indeed.
In a morally complex tale rich with authenticity, Nunn takes readers to Jacob's Rest, a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique. It is 1952, and new apartheid laws have recently gone into effect, dividing a nation into black and white while supposedly healing the political rifts between the Afrikaners and the English. Tensions simmer as the fault line between the oppressed and the oppressors cuts deeper, but it's not until an Afrikaner police officer is found dead that emotions more dangerous than anyone thought possible boil to the surface.
When Detective Emmanuel Cooper, an Englishman, begins investigating the murder, his mission is preempted by the powerful police Security Branch, who are dedicated to their campaign to flush out black communist radicals. But Detective Cooper isn't interested in political expediency and has never been one for making friends. He may be modest, but he radiates intelligence and certainly won't be getting on his knees before those in power. Instead, he strikes out on his own, following a trail of clues that lead him to uncover a shocking forbidden love and the imperfect life of Captain Pretorius, a man whose relationships with the black and coloured residents of the town he ruled were more complicated and more human than anyone could have imagined.
The first in her Detective Emmanuel Cooper series, A Beautiful Place to Die marks the debut of a talented writer who reads like a brilliant combination of Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene. It is a tale of murder, passion, corruption, and the corrosive double standard that defined an apartheid nation. I
throat. “There was a man. The captain looked but did not find anyone.” “No arrests?” “No,” Shabalala answered. “The man would have been found if it was European women being harassed,” Zweigman said. “The activity stopped and it was never mentioned again.” “Did you have occasion to comfort the scared women? It’s easy for emotions to get heated up when there’s an element of danger.” “Ah…” Zweigman had regained his composure. “How your mind works: always looking for the dirty secret. I will
pulled the curtain closed around them. The clink of campaign medals was followed by the metal sigh of the springs as the old soldier lay down to rest. Emmanuel picked up the family photo and motioned Shabalala over. “Where are the daughters?” he asked. There was no sign of them in the cinder-block house, not a ribbon or a hairpin. “Gone,” Shabalala answered. “To Jo’burg or Durban. For work.” The girls in the photo had taken after their father. Skinny and pale skinned with fair hair and
turn to be impressed,” van Niekerk replied with a trace of humor. “That fact is known to less than a hundred people in the whole of South Africa. Are you sure you don’t want to join the Security Branch? They’re looking for bright young men.” “I’m not interested in redrawing the map of the world with a thumbscrew and a steel pipe.” “Have they gone that far?” “Yes.” The crippled miner’s bruised arms and wild eyes came to mind. “Has any of it come your way?” “Not yet,” Emmanuel said. “But it’s
“Lieutenant said Hansie could have the day off as well.” The girl’s work-worn hands fluttered up over her enormous breasts to stroke the diamond center of her necklace. “We were going for a walk.” Emmanuel pointed to the necklace nestled in the girl’s cleavage. “That’s an unusual design. Can I take a closer look?” “Of course.” The milkmaid flushed with self-importance and lifted her chin to allow a better view. “It’s real gold and diamonds.” “A flower,” Emmanuel said, and examined the gold
than being a pastor.” “Yes, but it doesn’t suit his mother.” Mrs. Pretorius had a pretty clear idea about her youngest son’s future: a future free of oil stains and overalls. “The school holiday inquiry is an interesting one,” Zweigman broke in politely. “But that does not explain why the attacks stopped in the middle of the Christmas holidays and have not recurred.” “You’re right. December twenty-sixth was the last reported attack. That still leaves how much of the holiday?” “The first week