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Genius of James McClure

  1. Series: Kramer & Zondi
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  4. James McClure: The Steam Pig

Their riot vans unfortunately blocked off a proper view of what was going on beyond them….

Series: Kramer & Zondi

There must have been sudden, dramatic developments in the case he was unaware of…. There was the sound of an engine starting up and then, from behind the riot vans, came a truck piled high with villagers and their property. What an idiot he had been. It was an eviction: an ordinary Black Spot eviction, one of hundreds, an everyday event…. A bulldozer roared into raucous life and emerged from the scrub to flatten the vacated homes.

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After a few years as a schoolteacher, he became both a crime reporter and photographer for Natal newspapers. This brought me for the first time into regular contact with the South Africa police, and a fascination began to grow…. I became obsessed, working sixteen hours most days.

His crime beat soon took him to the dark side of South Africa. His reporting of what he saw—including a black prisoner being dragged through the streets attached by his handcuffs to the back of a police van—led to the authorities taking interest in him; the police would knock on his door in the middle of the night to make sure he knew they were watching him, and he saw friends being arrested.

Ten days later, the publisher bought it, and McClure thought: Huh. He had two weeks vacation coming up, and no money for a holiday away. I heard and saw and recorded what went on between them, before hurrying on to find out what would happen next.

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This would turn out to be his m. He found these to be all-consuming jobs, which is why he wrote no more novels after ; but then, after retirement at the end of , he finally got back to it. He was writing a new novel, set in Oxford, when he died in June They are wonderful books, raw, full of life, brilliantly written, a true window into a time and place mercifully past, though its ramifications echo loudly to this day.

And they are pretty damn good police procedurals. A mix-up results in the wrong body being cremated, and the intact body is highly problematical.

It is that of a beautiful white woman killed by a sharpened bicycle spoke inserted neatly between two ribs into the heart—a signature method of Bantu gang members. What follows for Kramer and Zondi, however, as they slowly unwind the case, is even uglier, even more unprecedented—a nightmare story of double lives, of corruption and the corruptible. It is an ideal introduction to the two main characters and their methods and the society in which they operate.

Oh, no, she feared the sight of it might incite the garden boy. It was no good speaking to her about it either. She would only ask again why the law required bikini girls on cinema posters to have decent dresses painted over them. There was no answer to that. You could submerge yourself in a jostling crowd around the game played with Coke bottle tops.

Or you could sit on the curb and shuffle your feet in the gutters with the others who never earned a glance from passersby. You just took off your tie, turned your jacket inside out to show the satin lining like a farmboy, and went to work. His right fist heaved up, missed, flopped back.

The detective duo quickly realize neither death is as simple as it appears.

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With two very different sets of crimes to solve, Kramer and Zondi set off on treks that take them all over town, from the poorer villages to the sleazy dressing rooms of con artists and pimps to the gorgeous step of the South African countryside. Only one thing is for sure—neither will be taking his day off this week!

Night Rounds. Helene Tursten. The Song Dog. James McClure. The Blood of an Englishman. The Sunday Hangman. The Artful Egg. The Kramer and Zondi Mysteries Book 4.

James McClure: The Steam Pig

How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long. The title should be at least 4 characters long. Your display name should be at least 2 characters long. At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information. You submitted the following rating and review. Although such partnerships did exist, making them public was rarely done. The series is set in and around a fictitious town called Trekkersburg.

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It is a typical White-controlled South African town of the time. Other races, such as Indians and Blacks, enjoy inferior positions in the social, economic, and political hierarchy, with Blacks being at the bottom. McClure captures all of this with accuracy and humor. He also depicts the hypocrisy of the dominant Afrikaans-speaking ruling party, whose moral positions were conveniently flexible. At the time, socializing between the races was almost impossible.

A myriad of laws was enacted to minimize inter-racial contact, and any amorous contact between Whites and Blacks was illegal. Yet, if one travelled across the border into Swaziland, for example, it was generally Afrikaners—the strongest supporters of apartheid—who were picking up Black prostitutes.

So, removing it from the books for political correctness would have resulted in a less effective depiction of what was happening. In the first, Kramer promises not to share a secret. Do you promise?