2014 Global Reading Challenge, review, South Africa

Devil’s Peak by Deon Meyer

devils peakDevil’s Peak by Deon Meyer, translated by K. L. Seegers
LIttle Brown, 2007
Originally published as Infanta, 2004
Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Deon Meyer has been on my list of authors to read for quite a long time now, and I chose to start with Devil’s Peak because it’s the first of the Benny Griessel series. It does feature a character from an earlier novel in a central role, so my plans to be unspoiled by starting with this book were foiled. I was very impressed with the beginning: the writing was good, the characters were very complicated, but by the end I was disappointed with the plot.

Griessel is an inspector leading an investigation into the murders of people accused of hurting children. He’s an alcoholic policeman with marital troubles, which is a story I’ve read before, but his experience as a policeman both before and after apartheid and the differences in those organizations (it was the Force during apartheid and the Service after) made the novel stand out to me. Meyer divides the story among Griessel the investigator, Tiny Mpayipheli the killer, and a young woman who is a sex worker who is making some sort of confession to a minister.

It’s an interesting structure with interesting characters, but a couple things bothered me: First, it’s a vigilante story. I’m not very interested in this theme (I’m almost as tired of vigilantes as I am of serial killers) even though this book features the twist that there is a vigilante in a country that recently abolished the death penalty. Second, the final fifty pages falter plot-wise. It features a plot twist that I see all too often in thrillers (I’m trying to avoid spoilers), and the last batch of antagonists is a very cruel and violent crew who aren’t really developed as characters.

I saw a lot of promise in the first half of the book, and I hope that other Meyer books don’t use such overused plots.

 

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10 thoughts on “Devil’s Peak by Deon Meyer”

  1. Rebecca – I’m sorry to hear this one had some disappointing aspects. I’m a Meyer fan, so I tend to be a bit forgiving. Even so, I do think Blood Safari is a fine example of Meyer’s work. If you decide to try his work again, maybe you’d try hat?

    1. Thanks for the specific recommendation, Margot! I admit I didn’t write down the titles of specific well-reviewed books I’ve come across in your blog and others so my book choice was a bit haphazard.

  2. I have only read one by this author, the first one: Dead Before Dying. I did like it, and especially for the setting. But that one had an unsatisfactory ending, in my opinion. I do plan to read more of them. Don’t know if I will hop around or read them roughly in order.

    1. I’m leaning towards hopping around: I don’t think I have the time or patience to start at the beginning 🙂

      BTW, I just picked up a couple mystery reference books you talked about ages ago, and I really like them so far: Whodunit? and The Fine Art of Mystery.

      1. I am glad you are enjoying the mystery reference books. I have only read bits and pieces of The Fine Art of Mystery. I have to read more of it.

  3. I have to agree with you on this one Rebecca. Writing is superb but the plot just wasn’t what I wanted to read at the time either. I set it aside and never finished it.

  4. Yes, the slogan, “So many good books, so little time” is a true one. I agree on ditching books if they don’t work for you.

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