Sunday, 16 December 2018

Apostle Lodge, by Paul Mendelson.

           This is the third novel in Paul Mendelson’s crime series set in the beautiful city of Capetown, South Africa;  again it features Colonel Vaughn de Vries, old school, burnt-out Afrikaner detective from the Apartheid era:  he is not popular with the new Rainbow Nation administration but they cannot deny that he gets results whether they like him or not, and currently he is being pressured to find ASAP the monster behind a series of recent murders where women’s bodies have been found raped and tortured in deserted buildings.
            One of these buildings is Apostle Lodge, an architect-designed house near a popular beach in the city;  it has been for sale for years with no takers, for opinion is that it is spectacularly ugly and, now that a woman’s defiled body has been found in its lounge there is zero chance that it will ever be sold.  To make de Vries’s job even harder, there is no crime scene evidence;  whoever perpetrated the crime was meticulous in leaving no trace of themselves, and it is only by doggedly trawling through recent killings from other districts that de Vries’s staff uncovers evidence of murders that are distressingly similar:  there is a serial killer at work.
            The public of Capetown is not ready to absorb such horror:  a few days before a huge bomb has blown a delivery van apart in one of the busiest tourist thoroughfares of the city; there are at least eleven deaths and more expected amongst the fourteen others who are fighting for their lives – add to that the crippling drought that has struck the entire coastal region, threatening to wipe out livelihoods, industries and in some cases, life itself.  No. Capetown cannot take another blow, and Vaughn de Vries and his team are under extreme pressure from his latest bosses to get results – and present a good image to the Press, one of whom seems to have inside information about the crimes – and him – that could only have come from his department.  Who is the leak?  Unthinkably, some of the inside information could also have come from the killer himself.
            Paul Mendelson has crafted with great skill another unputdownable thriller, a roller-coaster ride set against a backdrop of racism, greed and corruption: signalling that change for the better has yet to occur in the Rainbow Nation – as proclaimed by one black policeman who states baldly that de Vries and his team only investigate ‘white’ murders – until a politically driven plot to conceal a heinous crime by the government to boost its popularity comes to light, proving that no part of the Rainbow Nation is spared in this stark account of today’s South Africa.  SIX STARS      

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