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The framing of the mystery as a deal quickens the pace and yet, somehow, feels unbelievable. Nevertheless, once one suspends belief and foll. Let the Dead Lie Published by Thriftbooks. Awesome read. Very engaging, unable to put down. Well wrtiiten with an immense amount of intrigue. Read it first to be able to enjoy the full impact of "Let the Dead Lie". Durban dockside detective story lets no corpse lie undiscovered Published by Thriftbooks. This suspenseful novel from award-winning author Malla Nunn is taut and tightly paced.

Set in in South Africa, a country that surrounds Nunn's country of birth, Swaziland, the detective novel masterfully blends all elements that are required in such a text.

MercatorNet: Let the dead lie in peace? Not in Spain

Whether it is read as a sequel to Nunn's impressive debut novel, A Beautiful Place to Die, or by itself matters little, but that it is most definitely worth reading by anyone interested in the detective genre is a cert. The action in Let the Dead Lie centers around the deductive work of a former detective sergeant, Emmanuel Cooper. Emmanuel was earlier forced to buy his release from the police force on pain of otherwise being dishonorably discharged for an action that, under a more just system than the reigning apartheid regime, would not have been necessary.

Within 48 hours, Emmanuel has to solve a crime without the backup of the resources that would have been available to him as a matter of course if he had been part of the conventional police force. Not only does Emmanuel have to cope with the thugs and criminals that formed part of the underworld of the time, but he also finds himself up against those who would, prior to his disgrace, have been his colleagues.

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With the threat of a jail sentence hanging over his head if he does not solve the crime, involving the murder of a young white boy, which rapidly escalates into the murder of three victims, in time, Emmanuel has no time to waste. Each page is more gripping than the first, as Emmanuel's deadline looms ever closer. In addition to those striving to outwit or outrun him, Emmanuel also has his own inner demons with which to contend.

DEAD OR LIE

As a demobbed soldier who has survived the burned out battlefields of Western Europe, Emmanuel is constantly besieged by ever-present imaginary figures, such as a brutal and callous Scottish sergeant major, who appear to him in the form of pounding migraines, from whom he can only escape by resorting to taking whatever drugs are at hand. The description of the low-life types that frequent the Durban docklands are fascinating, as are the range of prostitutes that tread these pages.

The social inequalities of the time, which were entrenched in the National Party's legislative approach to the governance of multiracial South Africa, are revealed in full. The use of such a background is an effective means of keeping alive the memory of the horrendous deeds that were perpetrated by the apartheid state.

However, at no stage does Nunn dictate what the response of the reader should be to such inequity and violation of basic human rights. Her primary intent is to tell a first rate story, peopled by three dimensional, credible characters, and this she achieves to the full. Let the Dead Lie is a well rounded, believable novel that should gain a wide audience, as well as being a work in which contemporary historians and those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder should take an interest.

The second Nunn novel - as good as the first Published by Thriftbooks. Having thoroughly enjoyed the first novel by the same author, I was looking forward to this one, and I wasn't disappointed.

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As a matter of fact, this one was easier to read because I had already learned so much about the race classifications for this era in South Africa from the first novel. The main character, Emmanuel, is wonderful, and such a good guy that it is easy to get caught up in the solving of the mystery. The plot takes so many twists and turns that it isn't possible to guess the outcome, even though it makes perfect sense.

I love that the ending alluded to another novel to come, where we may learn more of the background on Emmanuel, who is still surrounded by much mystery himself. Meet the next great detective novel. Published by Thriftbooks. In this particular story, she teams up with Mikhail Blomkvist, a once-respected journalist who has fallen on hard times, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young girl forty years ago.

I could hardly put it down. I requested an advance review copy and devoured it. This book is actually a sequel to Nunn's debut novel, A Beautiful Place to Die now also on my reading list.

Both stories feature Emmanuel Cooper, a former soldier and police detective sergeant who is indeed as crafty and tough as Larsson's Blomkvist. And like Blomkvist, the actions of his past haunt his present. Let the Dead Lie is set in s South Africa, specifically, in the port town of Durban - a melting pot of Indians, Afrikaners, Zulus, English, Russians, Jews, and Greeks - that at this point in history is still subject to the racial separation system of apartheid.

Let the Dead Lie

The area of focus is the Victory Shipyards, which turn into a hotbed of violence, prostitution, and thievery at night. Cooper is now working undercover on the docks of Durban Harbor to document police corruption, when he stumbles upon the slain body of an year-old English slum kid that ran errands in the shipyard. Cooper, who grew up in a mixed-race family in the slums of Johannesburg, identifies with the boy. Rather than "letting the dead lie," he gets entangled in the crime scene and becomes the prime suspect in the murder, only to become a pawn in a much larger game of international intrigue.

If you like detective stories, this is a must-read; it's as fast-paced and engaging with equally colorful characters as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but also an easier read. A very interesting read and a window into a world few of us who have never stepped into South Africa have experienced. I enjoy Nunn's writing a lot.


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This rapidly changes to desperation as he is implicated in further murders and has a limited time, and difficult circumstances in which to clear his own name. Readers of the first of the Cooper books will be aware that this series is based within apartheid South Africa in the early 's. That's a very bleak, uncomfortable and disturbing location and timeframe for readers to be pushed into.

It's made even more discomforting with the move to the urban setting - somehow there's a loss of a sense of some beauty, probably because there's less of the natural world. The vast majority of people that Cooper encounters in this book are down-trodden or controlled totally by their "racial situation". There are some rare exceptions to that of course, and there's certainly some signs of people making the best of an appalling situation - but sadly there are also signs of depravity and prejudice and tensions within racial groups.

Let the dead lie

Somehow this makes the whole apartheid situation, and the nature of South Africa in that time darker, more depressing, more disheartening. Cooper himself remains an interesting, challenging character.

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Not quite an unreliable narrator, he's certainly a flawed human being. Which is something that really appeals to this reader - central characters that engage, make you think, wince or even dislike on occasions. Especially as Cooper has a good streak - his motivations are good, perhaps his methods less clear and sometimes his own relationships are at best hamfisted or at worst manipulative.

But it's that sense of manipulation that is strongest in this book - from the "State" manipulating people's rights and opportunities based on a mindlessly arbitrary classification of "race"; through people within those race groups manipulating their own situation, and those around them; to the way that the race groups do or do not co-operate or respect each other as well. Where the circumstances of the setting of the book are so overwhelming, it can sometimes be that the narrative can get a little lost in the crowd.

It's an interesting thing that in LET THE DEAD LIE, there is sufficient description and background to the world in which Cooper is operating to give a clear indication of what it must have been like, without losing too much impetus in the investigation. That investigation also twists and turns nicely and quite realistically giving the reader a sneaking suspicion that whilst some things are obvious, others may not be as they seem. Undoubtedly reading these stories isn't a particularly easy or pleasant task. The world is unpalatable, the society confrontational and profoundly shocking.

Cooper himself isn't a knight in shining armour. He is, however, a great survivor and let's hope this series survives with him. Dec 16, Lois rated it it was amazing. This suspenseful novel from award-winning author Malla Nunn is taut and tightly paced. The action in Let This suspenseful novel from award-winning author Malla Nunn is taut and tightly paced. The action in Let the Dead Lie centers around the deductive work of a former detective sergeant, Emmanuel Cooper. Emmanuel was earlier forced to buy his release from the police force on pain of otherwise being dishonorably discharged for an action that, under a more just system than the reigning apartheid regime, would not have been necessary.

Within 48 hours, Emmanuel has to solve a crime without the backup of the resources that would have been available to him as a matter of course if he had been part of the conventional police force. Not only does Emmanuel have to cope with the thugs and criminals that formed part of the underworld of the time, but he also finds himself up against those who would, prior to his disgrace, have been his colleagues.

With the threat of a jail sentence hanging over his head if he does not solve the crime, involving the murder of a young white boy, which rapidly escalates into the murder of three victims, in time, Emmanuel has no time to waste. In addition to those striving to outwit or outrun him, Emmanuel also has his own inner demons with which to contend. As a demobbed soldier who has survived the burned out battlefields of Western Europe, Emmanuel is constantly besieged by ever-present imaginary figures, such as a brutal and callous Scottish sergeant major, who appear to him in the form of pounding migraines, from whom he can only escape by resorting to taking whatever drugs are at hand.

The description of the low-life types that frequent the Durban docklands are fascinating, as are the range of prostitutes that tread these pages. The use of such a background is an effective means of keeping alive the memory of the horrendous deeds that were perpetrated by the apartheid state. However, at no stage does Nunn dictate what the response of the reader should be to such inequity and violation of basic human rights.

Her primary intent is to tell a first rate story, peopled by three dimensional, credible characters, and this she achieves to the full. Let the Dead Lie is a well rounded, believable novel that should gain a wide audience, as well as being a work in which contemporary historians and those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder should take an interest.