7 Days – Deon Meyer

I have read several of Meyer’s books about Benny Griessel, the South African defective detective, dealing with crime in a post apartheid world, so I sort of know what to expect. And, indeed, the author delivers here on all fronts.

There is the central character of Griessel, an alcoholic with a heart of gold, burdened by the frustrations of everyday life and love. He’s a very humane character, well and sympathetically drawn, who almost doubles as a metaphor for the country: was in a bad way, now undergoing recovery, and doing not bad.

The supporting characters are a reasonable range of types, some more interesting than others. But even those making a short appearance are rarely cardboard cutouts. You can spot some who may have more prominent roles to play in future novels.

There is the plot – a complex, believable, and well constructed framework for some fine storytelling and observational asides. The solidity of the plot is connected to another important ingredient: the backdrop. To put it briefly, South Africa lives in this book. And while you do not need to be interested in the country or the troubles of its politics or race issues, such interest may sharpen your enjoyment of the book.

This particular novel is about the hunt for someone threatening to shoot a policeman every day, until the police catch the killer of a murdered lawyer. Police resources are forced to reopen the case of the murdered lawyer, while struggling to decipher the shooter’s emails to the police and the press, all in a bid to catch him. The investigation inevitably stirs up trouble, in more ways than one.

It’s a fine piece of crime writing, well worthy of your time.