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.
Broadcaster unveils Christmas scheduleTV
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 4 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 5 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
Black Mirror Christmas special: Jon Hamm episode will see people 'blocked' in real life
True Detective series 2: Rachel McAdams cast in female lead as 'no-nonsense' detective
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel expected to become overnight bestseller
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Posh People: Inside Tatler, BBC2 - TV review: Fundamentally not just about posh people
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict