Monday, December 31, 2018

Bound Paper With Words: "The Satanic Mechanic" by Sally Andrew

Bound paper With Words: The Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew, 2017, 9780062397690.

Cozy mystery sequel to Recipes for Love and Murder. Someone mentioned to me that they never heard of the cozy genre of mysteries. Here is my definition list:
Woman protagonist either solves or assists in solving murder. Protagonist is not a Police Officer or PI. Protagonist often romantically involved with a male Police Officer or other manly man. Many recipes involved. No guts. No blood. No gore. One or more kooky but friendly characters. One or more threatening characters.

Anyhoo. Tannie Maria is still in her 40s and working for the Klein Karoo Gazette as a advice and cooking columnist. Maria writes advice columns that prescribe recipes to the letter writers. Maria is also coping with the trauma from her now dead husband's verbal, physical, and sexual assaults on Maria.

The most problematic issue in Maria's personal life is that when she starts getting sexually active with her new Police Officer Boyfriend (POB) she has flashbacks to her husband and shoves off POB with a scream. Maria sets out to find counseling. The first counselor tells her to go on a diet - she does sound quite heavy - and take antidepressants and diet pills.

Things are going better at Maria's work and her advice column is very popular. The newspaper's reporter - the entire small town newspaper is staffed by just three people - interviews a Bushmen who just won a big court case against mining concerns. The court victory returns land to the Bushmen. The Bushman is now living under death threats and Maria is fascinated by and completely impressed with the man. When the newspaper staff then travel to another town's local festival they witness the poisoning death of the Bushman and Maria is quite shaken.

Not too much later Maria starts hallucinating a Kudu and wonders if the Kudu is the lingering spirit of the Bushman. Maria, of course, gets involved in the murder investigation. POB gruffly demands she not be involved. Maria joins a casual therapy group run by an auto mechanic who once joined a Satanist Church. Her hallucinations continue. The therapy group is briefly held-up by a trio of Satanists. POB is angry Maria seems to keep walking into danger. Maria bakes lots of food. Maria can only relieve her stress by eating binges. A wacky local character is concerned about rare rabbits. There is another murder and this time it is at the therapy group. POB is even more worried and upset. Are the first murder case and the therapy group murder connected?

Not the kind of book I generally read but I do enjoy the South African setting. The amalgam of different cultures and languages in South Africa is fascinating. Hell, S.A. has 11 official languages. Roger Smith sets his books in the urban crime of Cape Town. Deon Meyer covers both urban and rural. Andrew is focusing on a remote part of the semiarad Karoo. The Karoo region covers a huge chunk of the southwest part of the country.

Maria's Afrikaans culture is interesting because most of the book's characters have seem to come to grips with the terror of the apartheid regime. The Afrikaans culture also sounds very repressed and conservative. Andrew could not leave her abusive husband because leaving a husband is more of a taboo then admitting to the abuse.

If you like recipes there are about a dozen - Wait, let me check... there are 13 recipes. Plus a glossary for all the African languages and terms.

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