switterbug (Betsey)'s Reviews > Trackers

Trackers by Deon Meyer
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Sep 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorite-books-i-have-reviewed
Read 2 times. Last read September 13, 2011 to September 19, 2011.

Many thrillers are about saving humanity, not necessarily inhabiting it. Maverick heroes are replicated from types previously established in classic iconic stories. Villains are cut from generic, barbaric cloth--the more psychopathic and gruesome, the better. Character and language are sacrificed for plot and standard themes, and the admirable hero/ine (or noble anti-hero/ine) saves the world. Gosh, with the hundreds of thrillers published each year (month?), the human race is lucky to be alive.

Enter the intelligence and nuance of South African novelist, Deon Meyer, whose arresting thrillers open and close with crackle and character. The plot doesn't proceed without the evanescence and development of his mosaic cast. Each primary protagonist of the three distinct stories in TRACKERS has an enigmatic personality, a moral imperative, and palpable inner conflicts--and Meyer winds the three plots into a robust and ropy overlap. Plot and story move in tandem with character, and discovery is united with exposure.

Characters are the key to open every dark path and locked password. The veld shimmers; you'll be Wiki-ing the Great Karoo and the black rhino. You won't want it to end. That's assured--you will be breathless for more--for the next page, the subsequent chapter, the following installment. Meyer created a hybrid of stand-alone and series--a few characters from former novels, and at least one that isn't done yet. One track in each.

TRACKERS is Meyer's most complex, tightly controlled, and literary novel to date, with an ending so exhilarating yet sublime that you will be pondering it for days. I have been an ardent fan for the past four books, but Meyer has not only eclipsed himself, he has outshone the towering abundance of other thrillers on the market.

His biting social commentary doesn't feel like a mouthpiece manipulation--it is woven in to the sharp observations of the various characters, such as Mat Joubert, the PI of the third story, a former member of SAPS gone corporate-private, and wrestling with middle-age ennui. Also, his passionate love for his wife is delightful.

Meyer's mastery of language and poetic expression is channeled through the character of Milla Strachan, the would-be writer and lover of words, a forty-year-old survivor of spousal abuse whose grown son takes her for granted. Meyer inhabits Milla with sinewy ease; his ability to express his primary female character is haunting, and Milla's choices feel organic (like the rest of the cast).

And then there is troubled Lemmer, who fans will remember from Blood Safari; Becker, an opaque swashbuckler; and Flea, his darkest of all female characters, a cipher. There's an offstage man, Danie, a cryptic, integral fellow who is revealed through other characters, such as his wife, his boss, and his employees--but who is he? Moreover, references to a primary protagonist from Thirteen Hours is intriguing to those of us who read it, because it engages us with a sense of continuity. And there are some secondary, beguiling characters who you're sure you'll see again.

There's no reason to tell you the plot here. Just a few nods to Meyer's intrepid storytelling--he creates three different stories that keep you riveted, and you gradually stop wondering how, why, where, or when this all combines. You trust him, and after the first fifty pages or so, you stop worrying about remembering the plethora of names (it does settle down).

Also, there's a wonderful glossary in the back, an education in itself. I wish I had known about it before I started reading. Laura Seegers translates from the original Afrikans with seamless authority. There are eleven official languages of South Africa, and her choice inclusions of slang, acronyms, and phraseology create an indelible atmosphere.

Words like asseblief--it means "please," or bergie, which is a homeless person living on the side of Table Mountain. And oom, a form of respectful address, like "uncle." Spoor means "track," the mark a wild animal leaves in the bush. (All this and more in the glossary.) Also, heading the chapters of Lemmer's story are short sentences from Louis Liebenberg's THE ART OF TRACKING. After all, this book is about tracking--animal tracking, surveillance, and detective tracking. Okay, now you have it.

Of all Meyer's books, this has the most global of contexts, ultimately. It is surely the most exciting. The fat lady doesn't sing, either--she whispers.
9 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Trackers.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

September 13, 2011 – Started Reading
September 13, 2011 – Shelved
September 14, 2011 –
page 130
26.64% "Wow--I mean, wow. This is both deliciously exciting and character-driven. So far sooooooooooo good!"
September 14, 2011 –
page 130
September 14, 2011 –
page 130
26.64% "First, why does it say 256 pages? This is an error--there are close to 500 pages. Anyway, fiercely exciting and character-driven. So far, soooooooooooooooo good!"
September 16, 2011 –
page 267
54.71% "(There are actually almost 500 pages of this book--I wish Gr would correct this). Anyway, this is just about the best cat and mouse thriller I have ever read! I am not getting anything done. Still haven't done my yoga today..."
Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
September 19, 2011 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
September 19, 2011 – Finished Reading
September 21, 2011 – Shelved as: favorite-books-i-have-reviewed
September 21, 2011 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Siobhan (new) - added it

Siobhan Fallon Lady, you write one heck of a review. I don't usually read thrillers, but am putting this on my Must Read list now, thanks to you.
Your fan,

switterbug (Betsey) Thank you so much, Siobhan!! Coming from you, one of my favorite writers, well...you just made my day!!

My husband is reading it now. The first 50 pages may seem herky jerky--lots of names and some confusion--you don't yet have an anchor. But, once you get past that, it starts getting really beautiful and even poetic!

Thanks again, Siobhan. My smile is bursting!

Your #1 fan,

Betsey Bug

Antje Just read this book. Please help me in my incomprehension. I did not get the bit about Helena Delfosse & Flea in the Postscript. If it is what I think, there must be a follow-up to this book, i.e. Flea ?

switterbug (Betsey) I keep hoping for a follow-up book, also, Antje. But it has been so long since I've read this, I'm afraid I cannot help much. I just remember thinking, as I closed the book, that there is room for another book to continue the story.

back to top