Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith

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Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Located in the dirt-poor areas of Cape Town this book is all about the dark side of life. An ex-model and an ex-cop find themselves shacked up together and it's a struggle for both of them just to stay alive.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 276 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
ISBN: 978-1846687570

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Straight away Smith plunges us into the underworld of Cape Town and the street chat of the locals. Boozed up and drugged up most of the time, violence is a nightly occurrence. And when local 'businessman' Joe is gunned down, it sparks off a whole chain of events for his American trophy wife, Roxy. Strong language, strong violence and strong feelings from the local criminals and low-life are the order of the day in this uncompromising novel.

Smith paints a depressing picture of daily life in the beautiful city of Cape Town. It seems to be a city of two halves: privileged 'whites' and the scum that is the 'blacks.' The two do not mix easily and the tension is always present.

And to ramp up the atmosphere even more, the language is often raw and ugly. Names of various characters tell their own story; Piper, Barbie, Popeye and a lot of the scenes are violent. I said 'scenes' on purpose as Smith gives graphic accounts which I could certainly see in my mind's eye. There are numerous pieces involving violence so if blood, guts and gore are not to your taste ...

And I could understand most of the violence. Many locals live in filthy shanty towns or literally on top of rubbish heaps. Many of the cops are corrupt themselves and turn a blind eye to criminal activities. In short, these are people with no hope, no future so they think, why not commit a few crimes. At least, when they're banged up in prison they are fed and have a roof over their head. In fact, one character cannot handle life on the outside. It's crap. He wants back home. Prison. I felt when I was reading parts of this book that I was in fictional hell. Not perhaps for the faint-hearted.

The central character, Barbie (you will learn how he acquired his nickname) is trying to be honest, have a decent life. Considering his past, it's a tall order. He has seen far too much violence in his life already but he has some bloody (in the literal sense of the word) scores to settle. He is met with some horrendous odds but he keeps going with this mission. It's a wonder he's still sane. But he is.

And as the plot develops I got a sense of how strong-willed and single-minded Barbie actually is. This novel really tests the human spirit because all of Smith's characters are flawed to some extent. Most have big issues to deal with. I particularly felt for the younger generation; schoolgirls being systematically raped while their distraught parents are powerless to stop it. Youngsters high on illegal drugs and killing and maiming - just for sport. It really is graphically brutal.

Evil is present on almost every page. Let me give you just one taster Crime was epidemic in this absurdly beautiful city ... Home invasions and hijackings left tanned and well-fed corpses in the sitting rooms and driveways of the suburbs that adorned the slopes of Table Mountain. Life is so brutal that it's dog eat dog. The character Piper will chill you to the bone. He may even make you feel a little queasy. But once again, he is a damaged person and has been for a long time. It's been some time since I have read a book which is so graphic in its violence but if you are okay inhabiting the seething slums of Cape Town then this book ticks the box.

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

If this book appeals then you might like to try Acts of Violence by Ryan David Jahn.

Buy Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith at Amazon.com.


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