Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.
Malla Nunn is an Australia author who was born in Swaziland, and she writes the DS Cooper series set in South Africa in the 1950’s as apartheid was enacted. The present darkness of the title alludes to, in part, the historical moment South Africa was in, and the mood of the book is quite grim. Nunn does a great job of showing how crime and the background of emerging from World War II played into the development of apartheid and how individual police officers did their jobs while very affected by their pasts.
The story revolves around the investigation into the violent assault on a white schoolmaster and his wife, and the accused is a black student who spent the evening with the family for dinner. He also happens to be the son of one of Cooper’s colleagues. The story takes place both in Johannesburg and a remote part of the Northern Province, and Cooper himself is an outsider in Johannesburg (he’s on assignment there).
I don’t typically read historical crime fiction, but I’m a fan of this particular book. I’m thankful for the many bloggers and commenters who have recommended this series! Cooper is such an interesting character in such an interesting moment in the political history of South Africa and in such an outsider position in the police force as well that it was a great hook for me. I’m also counting this book as my wildcard entry in the 2014 Global Reading Challenge for the seventh continent, which I’m classifying as historical crime fiction.