Wessel Ebersohn's Blog, page 2
May 8, 2016
Abigail Bukula was fifteen years old when her parents were killed in a massacre of antiapartheid activists by white apartheid security forces. Because a young soldier spoke up in her defense, she was spared.
Now she’s a lawyer with a promising career in the new government, and while she has done her best to put the tragedy behind her, she’s never forgotten Leon Lourens, the soldier who saved her life. So when he walks into her office almost twenty years later, needing her help, she vows to do whatever she can. Someone is slowly killing off members of the team who raided the house where her parents were murdered, and now Leon and an imprisoned colonel are the only targets left.
Abigail turns to Yudel Gordon, an eccentric, nearly retired white prison psychologist for help. To save Leon’s life they must untangle the web of politics, identity, and history before the anniversary of the raid—only days away.
The October Killings, from Wessel Ebersohn, not only brings to life the new South Africa in all of its color and complexity but also Abigail Bukula—the sharpest, most determined sleuth in international crime fiction.
Publishers Weekly said of this South African Thriller
South African author Ebersohn kicks off a promising new series pairing psychologist Yudel Gordon, last seen in 1992’s Closed Circle, with Abigail Bukula, chief director of South Africa’s justice department, who can more than hold her own with the brilliantly eccentric Gordon. As a 15-year-old girl, Bukula survived a raid on an African National Congress house in Lesotho on October 21, 1985, thanks to the intervention of a white soldier, Leon Lourens. In 2005, Lourens seeks Bukula’s help after learning that almost all his colleagues on the raid have been murdered on the exact anniversary of the assault. To catch the killer, Bukula hooks up with Gordon, who lost his government position with apartheid’s end, to get access to the imprisoned commander of the attack, Marinus van Jaarsveld. The complexities of South Africa a decade after the end of white rule help fuel a compelling plot that builds to several dramatic climaxes.
Booklist’s Thomas Gaughan says
Lawyer Abigail Bakula has a high-profile post in the South African government’s Department of Justice, but just 15 years before, she was present when her father and many other blacks fighting apartheid were murdered by white security forces. Teenage Abby would also have been murdered, but Leon Lourens, a young white soldier, saved her. As this book opens, Abby is busy at work when Leon appears at her office. He tells her that he’s one of the last members of that security force left alive and that he expects to be killed in coming days. To keep her savior alive, she must revisit the darkest moments of her life. Abby teams up with quirky, aged prison psychologist Yudel Gordon to track down Michael Bishop, a mysterious and brutal white assassin who supported the anti-apartheid forces. Ebersohn, an established South African novelist, has created engaging characters; a gripping plot; a great backstory involving the country’s recent, violent past; and trenchant commentary on South Africa today.
Praise For The October Killings
The Globe and Mail
“A brilliant novel of memory, reconciliation, and revenge. Ebersohn was always one of South Africa’s best, and this new book–the beginning of, I hope, a series–shows why. . . . Definitely one of the best mysteries of the year.”
“His horrors, rooted so closely in history, have a nightmare quality that’s hard to shake.”
Enslin Kruger is a dying man, but he is the top prisoner in C-Max prison, and must name his successor. This means blood. Kruger sees an unexpected opportunity to achieve this and at the same time exact revenge on his old nemesis, Yudel Gordon. He will anoint as his heir the man who slaughters Gordon’s protégé, the beautiful Beloved Childe.
A race ensues, by road and rail, from Pretoria to Cape Town… and by the time Gordon gets a whiff, it is already hopelessly late. To save Beloved, Gordon and his associate Abigail Bukula must figure out what the would be killers are up to, and quickly.
Review: Tiffany Markman
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November 22, 2012
Part of the reason for how Kruger structured this contest is his hatred for me. As for me, I have always tried to behave in a way that is completely professional. But Kruger is the one inmate who has been able to get past my professionalism. I don’t think what I feel about him is hatred, but it is disgust and revulsion. Perhaps people are right that I have not always been completely professional in my dealings with him.
I have to admit that Ebersohn’s recounting of the story of The Top Prisoner in C-Max does contain the essence of the story. He allowed me to read it in manuscript form, the first time he’s done that. I suggested a few changes and I’m glad to see that he incorporated them.
In life, lovers find each other, but so do killers. It is one of the problems of any prison system that we bring the likes of Oliver Hall and Enslin Kruger together. They formed a partnership of indescribable evil that may never have existed, but that they found each other in our prison. The events that flowed from that meeting will haunt me always.
November 15, 2012
The form this whole matter has taken surprises me. From what I have seen in prisons all my adult life, I did expect there to be a power struggle when he died, so much so that the director and I have discussed the possibility of a lock-down for a few days when that event takes place.
What none of us expected was that, while still alive, he would set up a contest to decide his successor. And what a contest he designed, and what a way to decide the winner.
November 8, 2012
The saga of The Top Prisoner in C-Max is simply about the struggle to take over from Enslin Kruger as the prisoner with most power in this very high-security prison. Kruger is a dying man. Most doctors who have treated him are surprised that he is still alive. I’m told by the medical staff that his liver is barely functioning, his prostate is riddled with cancer and his blood sugar count is skirting the comatose.
Despite all this, he clings to life. More than one of the prisoners has said to me that if we were able to take away his power altogether, he would die in a week. It’s an interesting thought, and not impossible.
November 1, 2012
Kruger has been behind so many killings in C-Max. I knew it every time there was a new killing, the prison’s security personnel knew it and the inmates themselves knew it. And for his purposes it was essential that the inmates should know it. From Kruger’s point of view there is no point in killing unless it is well known who is behind it. The very purpose is to instill fear. Once the prison population, and even some warders, are frightened of him then his will is done in all matters important to him.
October 29, 2012
Sadly, you are probably not the next great genius of thriller writing. In which case, a set of rules outlining what you had best do and what you should avoid is probably a good thing. So the sixty-sixth rule is this – pay careful attention to the first sixty-five rules.
October 25, 2012
Last time we were talking about genius and how the rules do not apply to the most brilliant. So find a story that no one has ever written, one that is entirely fresh, that owes nothing to any other writer. Maybe you are the next thriller writing genius.
October 18, 2012
I have often been asked why we could not do something about the situation in C-Max. Answering in a satisfactory, or a convincing, manner is not easy. One of the reasons is that prison warders are not well paid. It is not surprising that many warders choose to collect a percentage of dagga (marijuana) or tobacco coming into the prison. It’s harmless stuff anyway, they tell each other. The dagga calms the prisoners and makes them easier to handle and tobacco never turned anyone into a criminal.
And the trade has always kept Kruger in money. With the money he buys muscle and with no limitations on what he might do to those who step out of line, his authority in C-Max has been unchallenged for too long.
October 11, 2012
The Oliver Hall matter, Wessel Ebersohn recounts in The Top Prisoner in C-Max, was driven by an old crime boss by the name of Enslin Kruger. He had been in prison for more than ten years and throughout that time he had, in some ways, had more power than the director of C-Max. Because the warders are limited in what they are allowed to do to the prisoners, but Kruger and his Twenty-Eight gang are not, he has always been more feared among the general population than the staff has.
And running the prison has never been easy while there is a second source of power within prison walls.