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Blessed Are the Dead

(Detective Emmanuel Cooper #3)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  784 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper returns in this powerful, atmospheric novel about two communities forced to confront each other after a murder that exposes their secret ties and forbidden desires in apartheid South Africa, by award-winning author Malla Nunn.

The body of a beautiful seventeen-year-old Zulu girl, Amahle, is found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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This is the third novel in Malla Nunn's excellent Emmanuel Cooper series set in the South Africa of the 1950s during apartheid. Cooper and his assistant from the native police, Sergent Shabalala, are sent to the Drakensberg Mountains to investigate the murder of a maid from one of the English cattle stations. A beautiful Zulu woman, favoured by the English family and adored by the youngest son, Gabriel, Amahle is also the daughter of a powerful Zulu chief. Racial tensions are threatening to boil ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper along with Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala was sent from Durban to the Drakensberg Mountains by Colonel van Niekerk to investigate a murder, they had no idea it would lead them deep into the racial wars between the black and white communities in the area. The beautiful Zulu teenager, seventeen year old Amahle looked almost like she was sleeping; covered in wildflowers with a blanket for her pillow. But Cooper knew she was dead; the wailing of the ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
After finishing Let The Dead Lie I was eager to dive into Silent Valley, the third installment of Malla Nunn's Detective Emmanuel Copper series set in Southern Africa in the 1950's. Silent Valley picks up a short time after Let The Dead Lie ends with Emmanuel on his first real case since being reinstated to the force. Along with Native Constable Samuel Shabalala, Colonel van Niekerk has sent Emmanuel to a small rural town where a homicide has been reported, what they find is the posed body of a ...more
3.5 These are reliably good reads. I like Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper and Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala and I’m keen to finish the series (only one book to go). I feel sorry for DS Cooper having to play the game of keeping his superiors appeased while trying to track down murderers and employing methods that don’t always keep his superiors happy. He treats people with respect even if the apartheid system doesn’t class some people as worthy of a white man’s respect, which is another ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Black magic muti, a sangnoma and a murder on the veld in a 1950's South African country side. A Zulu Police Constable with uncanny tracking skills, a Jewish doctor who made it through the war in Germany, and a "white" Police Detective Emmanuel Cooper are together again to solve the crime. Cultural differences abound but their saying is that they learn from each other as they go along...and then they keep on learning a bit more. I enjoyed this book more than the first of the series which was ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Hooray for easy-to-read detective novels with a little bit of extra flavour to keep things exciting. It's like going to your dependable local curry house and discovering a new kind of korma. Nothing revolutionary, but it shakes up a Friday night.

'Blessed Are The Dead' is one of those. It's got all the familiar components of a murder mystery (read: your regular takeaway) - maverick male detective, a faithful sidekick, and a whole gaggle of believable suspects. But set it in the Drakensberg
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Emmanuel Cooper has worked his way back into the good graces of the Johannesburg, South Africa C.I.D. Cooper is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from his boss, sending him out into the veldt to investigate a murder. Turns out the murdered girl is the daughter of a Zulu chief who expected her to fetch a good bride price. As Emmanuel investigates, he determines the dead girl had many enemies. Soon, another dead body turns up and the hunt intensifies. This is a very interesting ...more
Claire O'Brien
My new favourite thing in the world of reading is doing reading challenges, as it's a great way to discover new writers, including Malla Nunn. I thoroughly enjoyed this detective story set in 1950s South Africa. An easy read with great characters that kept me intrigued til the end.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
nearly 4.5. :)
The Emmanuel Cooper books by Malla Nunn, set in 1950's South Africa, are another excellent series in what is luckily now becoming a bigger range of crime fiction set in various parts of Africa. SILENT VALLEY (aka BLESSED ARE THE DEAD) is the third book now, centred around Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper, a policeman with plenty of demons from his past. Knowing that his past is closely intertwined with a society based on Apartheid will help the reader understand some of the difficulties that ...more
Ruci Tukana
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Silent Valley by Malla Nunn (McMillan by Pan Macmillian Australia)

The body of Amahle, a beautiful, seductive , fought for daughter of the Zulu chief was found on a hillside. It was guarded and covered with wild flowers.
Sgt Cooper and Constable Shabalala roamed the wild valley and hillside to solve the murder mystery. The people were silent about Amahle's murder. Cooper and Shanalala even ventured to the Chief's compound to apprehend the suspect. It was none other than the chief's fifth wife, the
Book Him Danno
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. As an avid reader of police procedurals I am always on the lookout for a great series and Malla Nunn has really delivered with Blessed are the Dead. A beautiful Zulu girl has been found dead in the remote farming country of 1950’s apartheid South Africa and our troubled white police detective, with his native partner in tow, has been sent to dig in to the case.

The crime scene offers up very few clues, but just enough information for our team to start asking questions.
Kwei Quartey
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an intriguing new novel from Malla Nunn, author of A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE. When the body of a lovely seventeen-year-old is found in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa, Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper and Detective Constable Samuel Shabalaba are sent to the stark area to investigate.

Set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, the Detective Cooper series is quite unique. Malla's writing soars with each successive novel. I wish I could come up with some of her visual metaphors in my
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, africa
I was very impressed by the first book of the series and I liked the second novel. With the third case of Emmanuel Cooper, the author returns to the countryside. Again, Malla Nunn does very well in giving a vivid and scenic description of South Africa in the 1950s. Even better, her style of writing improved – I criticized the first book for being too redundant in some parts. That changed for good in this novel, while the author preserved her other strengths - for example the skilled description ...more
Apr 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I have to say this straight away when I picked up the book I didn't know it was a detective/mystery story. I generally steer clear of those as I have mentioned in a previous review the storylines are always the same. This one wasn't part of the usual pattern altogether, however, it's still a mystery to me is how I find a character in the book suspicious and the detective and sidekick doesn't. I suppose that is why the genre can be "mystery" what happens to the characters isn't a mystery it's how ...more
Pamela Mclaren
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Another amazing story by Malla Nunn that shares so much about the culture and history of South Africa. In this story, Det. Sgt. Emmanuel Cooper and Det. Constable Samuel Shabalala are sent out to solve the murder of a 17-year-old Zulu girl, the daughter of a chief who worked at a white owned farm. Almost right from the start Cooper finds problems: although the girl was reported missing, the local police did not react or even note her disappearance; her father seems more concerned about the loss ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another great installment in Malla Nunn's series about a lonely detective, Emmanuel Cooper and his sidekick Zulu detective Samuel Shabalala. Reinstated to the force, Cooper and Shabalala investigate a black on black crime in the scenic mountains beyond Durban. After solving the mystery of a murdered Zulu girl and boy, Cooper solves a mystery in his own life and sets out at the end to act on it. I hope this is expanded in the next book in the series, which I won't wait long to read.
Good solid crime story but not as thrilling as the first one (though much less gruesome than the second one, Let The Dead Lie, so I appreciated that).
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was another well plotted addition to Malla Nunn's Emmanuel Cooper's series. She writes very well and the information about the Zulu culture is very interesting. The characters are well drawn and it's good to meet the major players again.
Michael Robotham
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Elegant, atmospheric and beautifully written.
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very good, loved all the details!
I’m not much interested in detective novels, but I make an exception for Malla Nunn’s Emmanuel Cooper Mystery series because the novels are a blend of crime fiction with historical fiction set in the apartheid era in South Africa. As I said in my review of A Beautiful Place to Die, this series is

… much more than genre fiction. It reminded me of the best of Graham Greene in the way that the novel explores how context and culture impact on crime and justice, and how survival in an intransigently
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Intense, gripping investigation into the murder of Amahle, the beautiful daughter of a Zulu chief. Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper and his assistant, Constable Samuel Shabala are dispatched from Durban by their boss, Colonel Niekirk to determine who killed the seventeen-year-old. Visible in this story are the government-mandated racial divides that blighted 1950s South Africa, particulary when it becomes apparent that white women as well as black maids were jealous of Amahle because of her ...more
Lola Stice
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I want to like these books but this is probably the last of the series I will read. Entirely predictable even the plot seems almost the exact as the first book in the series. The attempt to write in a spare “ hard boiled detective” style leaves so much out. The author doesn’t seem to know how to emotionally connect the reader to her characters despite all the included tropesl and cliches.

Very little character development and I don’t buy Detective Cooper’s PTSD or find any intrigue in his
A captivating mystery set in the early 50s in apartheid era South Africa. A mixed race and a Zulu police officer try to solve the mystery of a murdered Zulu woman (young and very pretty) and a local who may or may not have witnessed the murder. The story highlights the challenges of trying to solve a crime with some many societal and legal restrictions placed on the crime solvers all while trying to respect long-held traditions and the monstrosity that is apartheid. Very complex and a great ...more
Johanna Markson
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the third in a very well done series about a mixed race detective in South Africa post WWII. The first two were a little more complex and engaging then this, but the payoff of this last was worth the wait and now I'm looking forward to the next one in the series. I love Nunn's characters and the very real portrayal of the South African bush culture, race relations, Zulu clan life, and Afrikaner and English settlers. Look for Let the Dead Lie and A Beautiful Place To Die and get started.
Moni Barrett
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5. Somehow, Nunn managed to make all events seem slow-paced and crawling, regardless of the amount of action that was actually packed in to the circumstances. I was reading purely out of obligation until page 200, until which I finally hit a point where events seemed to have more relevance. I was deeply disappointed. The remainder of the book was stilted, cliched and poorly written. I didn't feel that I was able to develop any type of relationship with the characters (hero or villain), which ...more
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do not usually choose murder mysteries, so this was a change of genre for me.
I enjoyed the exotic South African setting. Malla Nunn describes the surroundings beautifully and captures the racial overtones of the time well while managing to be respectful of the cultural differences.
I did manage to spot "whodunnit" but was close to the end before it was obvious but it was unclear as to how it could be proved.
A detective story/murder with a difference.
I found the story, set in 1950's South Africa, to be very interesting. Though I don't read many mysteries, I found that I wished I'd read the two preceding episodes first, not because this book can't stand on its own, but because I'd have liked to know the main characters more. Perhaps I still will.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Malla Nunn found her muse again with "Blessed Are The Dead." Perhaps Cooper and Shabalala didn't speak to her in Book #2, but they are back in good form in Book #3. Like the other two books in the series, this one offers a look into South African life in the 1950s all the while telling a good crime story.
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Great African Reads: Malla Nunn Nominated for a Edgar Award | 2013 7 26 Aug 13, 2013 04:10AM  

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Malla Nunn grew up in Swaziland before moving with her parents to Perth in the 1970s. She attended university in WA and then in the US. In New York, she worked on film sets, wrote her first screenplay and met her American husband to be, before returning to Australia, where she began writing and directing short films and corporate videos. Fade to White, Sweetbreeze and Servant of the Ancestors have ...more

Other books in the series

Detective Emmanuel Cooper (4 books)
  • A Beautiful Place to Die (Detective Emmanuel Cooper, #1)
  • Let The Dead Lie (Detective Emmanuel Cooper, #2)
  • Present Darkness (Detective Emmanuel Cooper, #4)