Monday, December 31, 2018

Damn It, Forgot Another: "The Blood of An Englishman" by James McClure

Damn It, Forgot Another: The Blood of An Englishman by James McClure, 1982 (I think, I did not search too hard), Wisconsin Digital Library audiobook download.

I just learned this novel is the sixth novel in the Kramer and Zondi series. I was searching for novels set in South Africa and this came up on Wisconsin Digital Library. I listened to his back in September or October, 2018. Soho Press does reprints and mentions "absurd humor". Well, I kinda remember that.

What I most paid attention to was the relationships between black and white. I'm still stuck on how the hell people were able to get along under apartheid. In many stories it seems apartheid is just like the weather - it's always there and you have to live under it, rain or shine.

Kramer is an Afrikaans cop. Zondi is his black partner. Both are detectives. There are friendly wisecracks between them that likely wouldn't be approved of now, things like 'black bastard'. And they are not equal partners. Zondi is a smart detective - as is Kramer - but the whites are still in charge and the black cops have to cajole and convince. They cannot order.

Anway. A antiques collector is shot and wounded. Then, a visiting tourist from England is murdered with the same caliber weapon. The press thinks there is a mystery serial shooter. The cops get lots of pressure and pursue a wide ranging investigation to gun shops, gun licensees, gunsmiths, and the lives of both victims. Then a third murder happens and the pressure builds up.

Kramer and Zondi are pulled into the wide ranging investigation but also investigate the death of the Englishman who is a former South African who journed the RAF in WWII. Englishman is back in S.A. for the first time in 40 years to visit his sister. Kramer and Zondi pursue several leads: is there a WWII feud? An girlfriend from Englishman's teen years? Family squabble? A random murder?

There is a sociopathic crook Kramer uses as a informant. (Kramer also forces the small stature crook to sit atop a tall file cabinet until the man talks.) The antiques dealer is skeezy. Dead Englishman was  a bit of a prick at times. There are a few drunks, a link to WWII turncoats, and more.

McClure does a nice job with the book and I enjoyed it quite a bit. A fair bit of humor concerning foolish Police commanders and the relationships among the Police Officers. The plot was well laid out and the many investigative leads keep you guessing.

1. How tough was it to be a fair Police Officer under apartheid? You want to see justice done and bring people to account. But, you are working under the laws of system that is purposefully unfair.

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