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by Yvonne Walus
Rating 4 stars.
In 1982, Annette Pretorius lives a life of privilege afforded to those of European descent in South Africa, but when her husband is murdered, she discovers a shattering secret: he’d been commissioned by the whites-only South African government to develop a lethal virus aimed at controlling the growth of the black population–already oppressed under the cruel system of apartheid. Not only that, but her life may also be in danger from a clandestine organisation who threaten her to keep their secrets.
The detective – Watson – in charge of solving the mystery was once involved with Annette, but their relationship was frowned upon by her parents and she was ‘persuaded’ to marry the more ‘suitable’ Gordon Pretorius. With emotions running high, Watson struggles to keep a clear head and refuses to accept Annette as a suspect. His investigation takes him to a very dark place, where racial tension rears its ugly head and the prospect of exposing the secret work of the scientists would have serious ramifications.
Set in 1980’s South Africa, a time when the colour of one’s skin determined their lifestyle, Apartheid was very much the order of the day. Whilst I am aware of Apartheid, I cannot account for the accuracy of the points addressed, but the issues raised do seem to be relevant to that point in time.
The story is full of twists and turns, constantly changing POV’s – sometimes at whim, with no obvious reason. It was a very interesting read, both from the point of understanding the tensions of the times, but also due to the identity of the killer remaining unknown until very near the end. There were many possible suspects and motives which kept the story flowing. The additional sub-plot about the victim’s ‘coloured’ sister being alive and well – even though he had been told she had died at birth – only increased the reader’s awareness of a population divided by colour. It’s an enjoyable thriller with a good pace and lots of unexpected twists.
I received the book via NetGalley.com – a site for professional readers (yes that’s what they call us book lovers!) I downloaded it to my Kindle and there were several formatting issues. Chapters did not start in a ‘clean’ manner, frequently the text changed size mid-sentence, with no real uniformity. On many occasions, sentences were jumbled up, causing me to hunt through the paragraph for the correct ending to the phrase. Other sentences were duplicated, in general there were too many frustrating incidents which made the story lose its impetus. In spite of this I still rate it highly, without such mistakes I would have given 5 stars.