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by Karin Brynard and Isobel Dixon
World Noir, April 2018
512 pages
ISBN: 1609454464

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

WEEPING WATERS, by Karin Brynard, is a murder mystery set in rural South Africa. Sara Swarts, a Johannesberg journalist, learns of her estranged sister Freddie's gruesome death and comes home to the farm, her childhood home, where the murder occurred. It seemed that her sister, a successful artist, had been drugged and then had her throat slit. Freddie's four-year old adopted daughter was slaughtered in the same way.

As Sara learns more about her sister's life and the people her sister was involved with, the complexity of the case increases. Was she killed because of jealousy? Was she killed because she favored the poor blacks and fostered many of the children, angering the white farmers? Was she killed to get her land? Was she a random victim of a botched robbery? Sara learns much about her sister from Freddie's close friend Nelmari Viljoen. Nelmari is an enigmatic character who professes to have been very close to Freddie and to have supported her in her art. However, Sara senses that she is not revealing everything she knows.

Freddie's murder is not the only crime in the area. Stock robberies have plagued the newly arrived Inspector Albertus Beeslaar, and now other murders occur as well. His staff is untrained and unreliable and he is not sure what is going on in the whole district. Farm murders, which occur in isolated rural areas are an ongoing source of concern for the ranchers he deals with. A vigilante group of white farm owners threatens to take matters into its own hands. He tries to discourage them and the suspense grows as the list of suspects increases.

The translation of WEEPING WATERS is clear but also includes many local terms and words which add to the sense of place. It may take the reader a moment to understand what is being referred to, but the pause is worth taking to fully appreciate the uniqueness of the area. Although the pace of the novel is slow, this allows the reader to feel the heat and discomfort of the South African climate along with the characters. Brynard's mystery gives detailed insights into the state of race relations in the area, has an unguessable ending, and thus provides a satisfying experience for those readers willing to stick with it.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, February 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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