Atlantic, £10.99 Order for £9.89 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Blood Rose, By Margie Orford
Intriguing case comes out of Africa
Tuesday 30 March 2010
London-born Margie Orford began writing while at Cape Town University. During the 1985 State of Emergency, she was detained, and did some writing in prison. This is a long and honourable tradition, and Orford has transmuted her political experiences into pithy crime novels.
Orford lived in Namibia too, and became aware of the unenviable divisions in her adopted homeland. She has talked about sitting in a bar in Cape Town, with the beauty of Table Mountain and endless blue sky undercut by the feral street children lurking outside. For her, though, it is the misogynistic treatment of women in South Africa that is one of the engines of her fiction. Crime here is sexualised, with the highest rate of rape in the world. As an investigative journalist, she studied everything from gang initiation to the survivors of crime, struggling to find the congruence between the beauty of her new country and its moral dislocation.
However, such books as Blood Rose are not given over to impassioned ideological arguments. Orford is canny enough to know that her principal duty is to engage the reader. This second outing in her Clare Harte series once again features her streetwise investigative journalist with a PhD in femicide and sexual murder. Clare has an on/off relationship with a good-looking captain in the South African police, Riedwaan Faizal, who uses her as a profiler on difficult cases.
Admittedly, the setup here is something of a switched-gender variant on Val McDermid's DCI Carol Jordan and Dr Tony Hill (though Orford's characters enjoy a slightly more fulfilling sex life). Clare is looking into the gruesome killing of a homeless boy. The evidence suggests that a serial killer is at work in the blighted township at Walvis Bay, Namibia, but to track down this monster Clare must enter the lives of these desperate, disadvantaged teenagers. There is a highly satisfying marriage here between keen desire for a better society and the no-nonsense imperatives of the best crime fiction: an edgy union that Orford presides over with great dexterity.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I was raped by another man. And now the Government wants to take away the one thing that saved my life
- 2 Wikipedia edits from inside Parliament removing scandals from MPs' pages, investigation finds
- 3 Preston fan who appeared to snatch Jermaine Beckford's shirt from eight-year-old boy identified and says: 'the truth will come out'
- 4 Johnny Depp facing 10 years in jail for illegally bringing dogs to Australia
- 5 Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
12 UK stores that sound like the hottest rappers of 2015
Suicide Squad: leaked footage gives us first look at Batmobile chasing Joker through city streets
Never Mind the Buzzcocks axed after 18 years
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote