Thursday, October 01, 2009

Blood Safari by Deon Meyer

Title: Blood Safari
Author: Deon Meyer
Translated from the Afrikaans by K.L. Seegers
ISBN: 9780802119032, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2009
Genre: Thriller
Rating: A

First Line: I swung the sledge hammer in a lazy rhythm.

Emma Le Roux is getting dressed when her Cape Town home is broken into by three masked men. She manages to get away, and she's convinced that the break-in has something to do with her brother Jacobus, a man whom everyone believes has been dead for twenty years. Emma hires professional bodyguard Martin Lemmer to protect her while she investigates. Lemmer is a true tough guy with a checkered past and the skills that would normally keep Emma safe, but when she's critically injured Lemmer commits himself to finishing her investigation even though his own life is now in danger.

This book grabbed me by the throat and would not let go. The translation is beautifully done, and the settings on the game preserves of South Africa lend the perfect note of the exotic. If you're leery of snakes, there is one scene in this book that could give you nightmares. I didn't have nightmares, but I certainly was jumpy for an hour or two after reading it. (I can still get nervy just writing about it!)

Lemmer is a fascinating character, and not just because he has a questionable past. He has prejudices-- he willingly admits to them-- but when he's shown that he was wrong to think that way, he's a person who can admit his mistakes, apologize, and learn from them.

Meyer's plot is well-woven and moves like a wildfire. I did not want to put this book down. I had to know how this cast of characters fit together. I had to know what was going to happen next.

Above the fast-moving plot, above the intricately drawn characters, is the land of South Africa. Meyer gives strangers to his country a well-seasoned taste of life in that land-- not only for humans, but also for the animals in that unique area of planet Earth.

I don't read that many thrillers because the ones I have read tend to skimp on elements that I consider to be very important: characterization and setting. It's been my experience that thrillers are all about plot. Deon Meyer has made me see that this "ain't necessarily so." There can be thrillers with rich settings that you can see and hear and taste. There can be thrillers with characters so well-drawn that you feel as if you know them. There can be because I've just read one-- Deon Meyer's Blood Safari.

*Review copy provided by the Amazon Vine program.


  1. I felt exactly the same way about the Deon Meyer book that I read last year Cathy (Devil's Peak). Unputdownable. And I agree the translator is excellent. Thanks for this review I am going to put this one in my shopping basket at book depository right now :)

  2. Cathy, thanks for your review. I'm excited about this book in part because the plot sounds absolutely riveting, and also because of the South African setting. Ever since my visit there nine years ago, I've been in love with its sheer beauty. And a mystery that combines these? Irresistible for me :)

  3. Ohhh - Cathy - this one sounds wonderful. I don't generally read thrillers, but this one sounds really interesting.

    :) Wendi

  4. Putting this one on my must read list! Sounds awesome.

  5. This sounds so good. I'd love to read it for the setting alone, which I bet is depicted accurately.

  6. Thanks for introducing me to a new (for me) thriller writer. I'm going to look for this one.


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