Deon Meyer’s Devil’s Peak was published in 2004 and won the ATKV Award for Prose in the same year. It is the first novel in a series following Benny Griessel of the SAPS. This crime thriller novel is set in present day South Africa with most of the action taking place in the city of Cape Town.
I’m a huge fan of all the big names in the crime fiction genre; Kellerman, Grisham, Hewson, etc. and I think Deon Meyer belongs up there with them. This novel was fast paced and very well plotted. It kept me hooked until the very last page and I could not put it down. In the end all the plotlines came together to reveal the full extent and connectedness of the story and the characters. A mindblowing story. The characters were very well fleshed out, they are real people with real flaws and are a true representation of the diverse nature of the people of South Africa and their circumstances.
The storyline of Devil’s Peak from Deon Meyer’s website:
My name is Benny Griessel and I am an alcoholic.
“Hello, Benny,” said thirty-two voices in a happy chorus.
“Last night I drank a whole bottle of Jack Daniels and I hit my wife. This morning she kicked me out the house. I have gone one day without drinking. I am here because I can’t control my drinking. I am here because I want my wife and children and my life back.”
But getting his life back won’t be easy for Detective Inspector Benny Griessel of Cape Town’s Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, because there is a vigilante killer on the loose – a ruthless executioner with a personal vendetta against the scum committing crimes against children.
With the media screaming, politicians turning up the heat, his young, inexperienced colleagues bumbling, and the body count rising, Griessel has to resort to the desperate measure of setting a trap.
But his brilliant plan does not quite take into account the love of a sex worker for her child, the ruthlessness of the deadly Sangrenegra drug cartel or his own passion for the healing powers of the bottle.
This novel deals with a particular set of crimes some of which are black and white while others are grey in that the crime it is not easily defined as either right or wrong. There is a moral dilemma attached to the crimes and the manner in which they should be dealt with. This is the beauty of this South African novel. It shows us the circumstances under which moral dilemma is created and how as people we can not always judge what is right or wrong unless we walk in the shoes of others. This novel shows us that despite culture we are all united in our humanity while showing at the same time that there are those people willing to act completely without humanity.
The Guardian’s Matthew Lewin had this to say about Devil’s Peak:
… if you want a glimpse of the soul of the new South Africa in all its glory, and with all the gory details of its problems and corruption, Meyer is your man. Devil’s Peak reflects the country’s spiralling crime rate and particularly the dramatic increase in child rape, which is influenced by the pervasive myth that it can cure men of Aids.
Its two powerfully drawn protagonists work their way towards each other over the course of the novel, with the author giving expert tugs to the reins to keep them on course.
I marvelled at the intricacy of the plotting, I smiled at Christine’s cheeky ingenuity, I felt Thobela’s pain and Benny’s desperation, and I was stunned by a dénouement of awesome power and accomplishment.
I highly recommend this novel to any crime fiction fans!
Find out more about this novel and the author on GoodReads