Killing Kebble: An Underworld Exposed (Revised Edition)

by Mandy Wiener (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781770102453



This gripping non-fiction crime story delves into the underworld where political influences and shady relationships are considered normal. The events told in the book are far removed from the average person’s perception of life. It almost reads like fiction, but with the chilling reminder that it is reality. 

Written with journalistic flair, the author managed to catch my attention from the start. This paperback edition includes additional up to date developments from the previous publication and also an author interview which I found to be an interesting addition. 

The story can be summarised from the introductory pages of the book: “Killing Kebble is not the story of one murder. It’s a gritty fast-paced chronicle of how one death blew the lid off Johannesburg’s underworld.” Excellent read. Interesting and disturbing at the same time. 

Michele van Eck
5/5

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Private Games

by James Patterson (Century) ISBN: 9781846059742

 

This book was clearly intended to run in conjunction with the recent Olympic Games in London.

 

Private, the world's most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Nigel Steele is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games' organizing committee and his mistress have been killed.

 

This book appears to form part of a series of books by the author. Although part of a series this book can be read on its own and has a strong plot-driven story.

 

This book seems to me to follow the so-called Patterson formula, being fast paced which keeps you on the edge of your seat. Quick, short chapters had a psychological way of making me want to keep turning the pages.

 

Even though the Olympic Games are finished, this book is still a good read and worth investing the time in reading it.

 

Michele van Eck

4/5

 

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The Killing

by David Hewson (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447213956

 

This is the re-telling, by novelist, David Hewson, of the award winning Danish crime drama originally created by Soren Sverstrup.

 

A girl is found raped and murdered on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Detective Sarah Lund cancels her move to Sweden to take charge of the case, with Jan Meyer, the man who is supposed to replace her.

 

The book does well as a stand-alone story without having watched the TV series. The fast pace and riveting plot kept my attention throughout. The author did well in keeping the pages filled with action. It did not disappoint.

 

The one let down was the font and presentation of the book. The novel is already lengthy (exceeding four hundred pages) and the font seemed smaller than usual. It felt as if the words were squished onto the pages. This had a negative impact on the reading experience.

 

Otherwise a good read. The author stayed true to the genre and fulfilled the basic expectations of a crime novel.

 

Michele van Eck

3.5/5

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Death of an Empire

by M.K Hume (Headline) ISBN: 978 0 7553 71471

 

Most of us have heard of the legend of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin. It has been told many times before and yet we seem to never get enough of it. It is no different when it comes to M.K. Hume who has made her mark in presenting a different and perhaps a more exciting version of these legends.

 

In her first series she dealt with Arthur but Death of an Empire forms part of a series that looks at the life of Merlin and a part that little is known of. This alone made it an exciting read.

 

The second book in the series is set in historical Rome and explores the early years of Merlin’s life. It does not take much to realise that the author has done her research which in turn lends to the authenticity of the story. She successfully mixes the legend of Merlin with an accurate historically based novel.

 

The book can stand on its own without reference to the first in the series.

 

Michele van Eck

4/5

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Demi–Monde: Spring

by Rod Rees (Jo Fletcher Books) ISBN: 978 1 84916 503 7

 

Science Fiction is not for everyone, but Rod Rees manages to introduce a fresh angle to this genre.

 

The novel is based on the concept of the Demi-Monde which is a virtual reality in which a person can be fully immersed. This artificial reality was designed to train military personnel. It has various political parties factored into the programming which resemble traditional history figures and countries.

 

It is a complex book with strange concepts and difficult terminology that is often tough to grasp. It may be that the first book of the series, Demi–Monde: Winter explains many of the concepts and history of the story.

 

However, without this back-story it made the book difficult to read. Despite this, the author has a strong writing ability that still caught my attention.

 

Michele van Eck

3/5

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Phantom

by Jo Nesbo (Harvill Secker) ISBN: 9781846555220

 

Harry Hole returns from Hong Kong to investigate a murder which is already considered solved. This leads him to investigate the underground world of drugs.

 

Although Phantom is well plotted and the story is deftly weaved together, I don’t think the author managed to pull off the dual narrative in the book. The large sections of monologues were tedious, at best.

 

Being a translated text I tried not to be too critical on the use of English. I was left wondering whether the author’s writing style was “telling rather than showing” or whether the writing style was something that was lost in translation from the original text.

 

The success of The Snowman and The Leopard may have carried this book. For someone who did not read the previous books I found the story and plot solid but the use of English and the writing style ruined the experience for me.

 

Michele van Eck

2.5/5

 

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Death: A Survival Guide - 100 ways we die and how to avoid them

by Dr Sarah Brewer (Quercus) ISBN: 978 0 85738 6106

 

This is a non-fiction reference book setting out a hundred ways a person can die.

 

It describes death resulting from drowning, electrocution and heart attacks to less common causes of death such as boredom, snoring and sleep. The book gives enough detail of each cause of death to have a basic understanding of it, but hardly has enough information to be an authoritative source.

 

For more detail alternative sources would have to be consulted. Each death describes why it kills, what would happen and how to avoid it. These sections are often unnecessary.

 

Overall, despite that the subject matter being morbid, it is a good all-round book, which is written in plain language and gives enough detail to ensure a basic knowledge of each instance of death.

 

Michele van Eck

4/5

 

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Cell 8

by Roslund & Hellstrom (Quercus) ISBN: 978 1 84916 147 3

 

This crime novel starts with John Meyer Frey on death row for murder but he dies before the sentence is carried out. Later he is found alive in Sweden and Detective Ewert Grens wants to return him to death row.

 

Despite the duo authors’ previous success in the genre, Cell 8 is a difficult read. The scenes frequently jump from the past to the present. I believe the authors did this to create tension but I found that it created unnecessary confusion.

 

Cell 8 has all the elements of a great crime novel but is overshadowed by the authors’ perceived moral dilemma of the death penalty. I found a disconnect with the characters which are presented as stale and one dimensional. Unconvincing explanations of major events erodes the credence of the plot.

 

If you can look past these aspects the book is fast paced and filled with action, and I believe fulfils the basic expectations of a crime novel. Kari Dickson does an excellent job in presenting the original Swedish text in English.

 

Michele van Eck

3/5

 

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