Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn

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Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Apartheid ruled in nineteen-fifties South Africa and ex-Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper found himslef suspected of three murders and is left with forty-eight hours to solve the crime. Pacy and very readable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Mantle
ISBN: 978-0330519779

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In early June 1953 most of the world was waiting for the coronation of Princess Elizabeth, but in South Africa the rigid and rigorously-applied race laws have split the country. Those to whom the land once belonged are now part of an underclass with many living in gruelling poverty. Even some white people struggled to make a living and when ex-Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper came across the body of a white child in the Durban docks he has no idea where the tragedy will end. It's not long before he's the chief suspect for Jolly Marks' murder and two others as well.

We've all heard about apartheid. We've read about it. Intellectually we know of its evils and iniquities, but Let the Dead Lie brings them to vicious life. You'll feel the fear of people trying to scratch a living who might arbitrarily be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. You'll understand the problems of looking different, perhaps a little too dark skinned to pass as white or 'European' and the lengths to which people would go to get that piece of paper which classified them as white. Apartheid isn't the background to this book – it's the main character and the location all at the same time. Malla Nunn has a brilliant ability to deliver a picture of a society at war with itself. When you've read this book you'll understand apartheid and why it must never happen again.

And the story? Well, it's excellent. Cooper has forty-eight hours to find the killer and this gives a real pace and urgency as he trawls through Durban's underworld of Indian gangsters, pimps and prostitutes. They might be on the wrong side of the law but the real criminals are not the small-timers trying to make a living as only they know how. The layers of the plot peel away like skin from an onion: Cooper is a man who cannot let anything be, who can't look the other way. It's not only the people who should get hurt who suffer from this and that's something he will have to live with.

It's a good read too. Nunn is a master of the perfectly-turned phrase, of never wasting a word and you'll find the pages turning themselves. I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to hearing more about Emmanuel Cooper.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Kennedy's Brain by Henning Mankell. For the classic novel about apartheid we can recommend Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor.

Buy Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn at Amazon.com.

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