Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Review: Mixed Blood by Roger Smith

Book Info:
Mixed Blood by Roger Smith
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (March 3, 2009)
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 4/5

Reluctant bank robber Jack Burn is on the run after a heist in the United States that left $3 million missing and one cop dead. Hiding out in Cape Town, South Africa, he is desperate to build a new life for his pregnant wife and young son. But on a tranquil evening in their new suburban neighborhood they are the victims of a random gangland assault that changes everything.

Benny Mongrel, an ex-con night watchman guarding a building site next to Burn's home, is another man desperate to escape his past. After years in the ghetto gangs of Cape Town he knows who went into Burn's house. And what the American did to them. He also knows his only chance to save his own brown skin is to forget what he saw.

Burn's actions on that night trap them both in a cat-and-mouse game with Rudi "Gatsby" Barnard, a corrupt Afrikaner cop who loves killing almost as much as he loves Jesus Christ, and Disaster Zondi, a fastidious Zulu detective who wishes to settle an old score. Once Gatsby smells those missing American millions, the four men are drawn into a web of murder and vengeance that builds to an unforgettable conclusion.

Roger Smith's debut thriller is a fast-paced book with many twists and turns. The character's actions, ever the minor ones, have great influence on the course of the book. The connections between the characters and well done and believable. Sometimes in mysteries things come together a little to conveniently, and I didn't have that feeling with this book.

The characters aren't really deep, but in a mystery the attraction is the action, and there is plenty of that here. The setting of South Africa is also interesting. It lent an air of unfamiliarity that added some extra spark to the book. Some of the slang didn't make complete sense to me, but I was always able to get the general idea.

If you prefer your mysteries to by cozy, this may not be the book for you. There is some violence and foul language. I prefer my mysteries gritty and this one fit the bill. Smith is working on another book set in South Africa and I will be on the lookout for it. 4 stars


Literary Feline said...

I love the idea that the book is set in South Africa. And I can't resist a good mystery. I will have to keep my eye out for this one. Thanks for the great review!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I love gritty mysteries. I don't want to be coddled...bring on the blood and swearing! You know, one mystery on my radar is "A Beautiful Place to Die" by Malla Nunn. It takes place in South Africa too, during Apartheid, and has gotten rave reviews.

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

Hi Melissa...Thanks for visiting my blog. I put your name in for a chance at my Quilt Panel giveaway. I am just a bit older than you (haha) but I am sure you were wrapped up in a blanket that looked something like this print. I will be back for your book reviews.
Stay Cozy, Carrie
(love your high heel avatar!)

Zibilee said...

Mysteries are not really my genre, but the setting compels me to take another look at this book. Thanks for the great review!