Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Finished: "Wake Up Dead" by Roger Smith

Finished: Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith, 2010 (U.S.), 9780805088762.

Excellent. This is two damn good books in a row. This and Broken Shore. Note to self: Never visit Cape Town.

Crime novel set in Cape Town, South Africa. (West side of country). Very gritty and brutal. Set in both the wealthy side of town and Cape Flats, a former black settlement with horrific crime. Smith covers racial issues and crime issues. The differences among white, black, and in-between.

Ex-cop Billy Afrika loses his job as a contractor in Iraq when he is picked as a scapegoat. He finds out the guy who hired him has not been paying him. Billy heads him to get the dough. The guy's wife, Roxy, takes advantage of a carjacking to murder her husband. Carjackers take advantage of wife's guilt to blackmail her. Afrika needs the dough to pay off a local crime lord and keep safe the family of his murdered cop partner. Murdering of Afrika's partner, Piper, escapes prison to reclaim his "prison wife", one of the carjackers named Disco. Add other ingredients, mix, stir, bake in the summer heat of Cape Town, watch pan boil over.

The plot does not follow convention. There are - in several instances - no last minute rescues. the people you may expect to turn heroic do not.

A fantastic crime novel. My Comments:
1. Afrika takes on the job of protecting Roxy. Not because he gives a damn about her but because she is the only link to the money he is owed. Roxy is a former model and mega-mega-hot. Roxy is used to using her looks to get her way but Afrika is unfazed - although he is attracted to her. This is a great tack by Smith. He doesn't create a love story between the two.
2. Disco's male beauty is on par with Roxy's. But, Disco is a black soul. He is neither the beautiful hero or villain. He is a junkie criminal in fear of returning to prison and Piper.
3. Piper is not human. He is a killing machine and has been since he was 11. At least I think that was the age given for his first murder.
4. Modern Cape Town and crime. The differences between the uber-wealthy and chic waterfront with high-end designer shops versus the forlorn and gang controlled Flats where burglary, beatings, robbery, theft, drug dealing, severe child abuse, drug abuse, rape and murder are commonplace.
5. Compare this to Blood Safari. There the bodyguard is flawed but heroic and falls for his client, the client reciprocates. In Wake Up Dead there is little love, just guilt and fear.
6. Much mention of Z88s. The SA clone of Beretta 92s.
7. Piper is a scary person. He has 19 tear tattoos on his face of each murder he has done. Piper prefers the intimacy of stabbing people to death. I just did a google image search on Cape Town crime and ran across Piper Knife, which sells a knife defense e-book on knife fighting.

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