Devil’s Peak by Deon Myer – a review

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Last weekend I finished reading Deon Myer, Devil’s Peak. Set in South Africa it’s the story of three main characters, an alcoholic detective, a revenge seeking assassin and an ex prostitute. (Not exactly the basis for a PG rated comedy)

The assassin is seeking revenge against child abusers by slicing them to pieces with what I assume is a very big knife (its given some fancy name I can’t remember), the alcoholic detective is trying to track him down whilst staying sober for six months so that his wife will take him back, and the ex prostitute holds the key to the whole thing and is looking for her daughter.

Mostly I really enjoyed this book. The setting was fantastic and seemed to give a real insight into South Africa, although knowing very little about the country, at times the politics took a little following. The characters were quite engaging and I felt you quickly grew to care about what was happening to them. I did get the impression that the serial killer element of the book (i.e. the revenge seeking assassin) was a bit of an afterthought, although I suppose it was used as a hook for the characters to hang off. The focus of the book was the people and their background stories rather than the crimes but I felt this was actually a really interesting and different way of doing it.

The structure was quite unusual in that it mixed between the three characters stories as the ex prostitute tells her story to a priest, and gradually the two male characters intertwine. I think the writing is very clever (it’s been translated into English from Afrikaans) and although it took a bit of getting into, once I got into the flow it was enjoyable.

The ending is a bit of an anti-climax and as much as I enjoyed it at the time, looking back I’m not really sure how much actually happened. This could also be that since finishing this book I’ve started reading a Jo Nesbo and thats really excellent, so maybe this review is a bit coloured by that.

I would be interested in reading Deon Myer’s other books as this was the first one of his I’d picked up and like I say it was good in parts and he will definitely be on the list of people we go and see at Harrogate.

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3 Comments

Filed under book review, Crime writing, Theakstons Festival

3 responses to “Devil’s Peak by Deon Myer – a review

  1. Mike

    Just tweeted a link to this. You hit the nail on the head with a reference to “engaging” characters who you grew to “care about”. I really struggled with the five David Peace novels about crime in Britain in the 70s and 80s because the main characters and most of the minor ones were uniformly vile. The only reason I got through them was because this is a fascinating period in British social history. That said, don’t get me started on the Red Riding Hood TV adaptations of the early books.

    • Thanks for the tweet (there is something wrong about grown adults talking about tweeting!) I watched Red Riding Hood, on your recommendation I believe. From what I remember it was pretty hard going.

      • Mike

        Yep, tweets and tweeting don’t sit well with me either, but that’s what they are called, so we’re stuck with them. At least until the next great social media discovery. We’re getting off the point. Go and read some more books!

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