Bree T's Reviews > Trackers

Trackers by Deon Meyer
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's review
Nov 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: african-fiction, crime, library-reads, series
Read from November 18 to 21, 2011

Milla Strachan, a middle-aged Cape Town housewife has finally gathered up the courage to walk out on her emotionally abusive, cheating husband and her rude, demanding and ungrateful college-aged son. She has found herself a new apartment and sets about finding a job. She knows that it won’t be easy, having been a housewife for half her life to her well-off husband, living in a nice house in a nice area. However with relative quickness, Milla finds a job writing reports for the Presidential Intelligence Agency, mostly on gangs and criminal activity. Milla must pretend that her job is writing news summaries to anyone that asks, as what she does is classified. As Milla learns to live on her own again, enjoying her new-found independence she finds that her work life and her personal life are about to collide in a way that will change her life forever.

Lemmer is a bodyguard currently not on any jobs, minding his own business in his small village when a wealthy local farmer asks him to ride along on a smuggling expedition. The farmer has purchased two discovered black rhino and is trucking them across the border from Zimbabwe. It can be mighty dangerous and having asked around and heard a little about Lemmer, he asks him to go along on the trip and provide a bit more muscle just in case there is any trouble or there are any attempts at a high-jacking. Lemmer isn’t entirely thrilled about the idea but when his tiny girlfriend Emma seems to get in on the romanticism of saving the rhino and turns her eyes on him pleadingly, Lemmer cannot say no. As Lemmer finds out, the trip is a little more than it first appears. Lemmer doesn’t go looking for trouble, but it finds him nonetheless. Often.

Mat Joubert is a former Superintendent with the police now having resigned from the force after 30-odd years and working as a private eye. His first case is to investigate the disappearance of Danie Flint, who managed local bus routes for a transport company. Working for Danie’s wife, Mat has adjust to no longer having a badge to smooth the way and having to add up every expense based on what his client can afford and what might provide them with the best results.

These three situations all seem at first, unconnected. But eventually Milla, Lemmer and Mat’s stories will come together to give a clear picture on smuggling and criminal activities of gangs in South Africa and their dealings with Islamic groups. All the questions will be answered and all the ends tied up in a way that proves that Deon Meyer is a new crime writing genius.

Trackers is my second Deon Meyer book in a week. I actually borrowed it out from the library first before realising that Lemmer appears first in Blood Safari. I should’ve read a bit further into the blurb of Trackers because Mat Joubert, whose narrative comprises the last part of this book, appears in at least one previous Meyer novel as well.

Trackers is set in South Africa just prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We are first introduced to Milla, who has made the brave decision to leave her abusive husband and start a new life for herself. She gets a classified job writing intelligence reports for Presidential Intelligence Agency who are currently holding an investigation named Operation Shawwal which they believe will culminate in an Islamic attack on the American soccer team during the World Cup. The PIA works in conjunction with the American CIA to attempt to decipher the intelligence they are receiving, including the identity of Lukas Bekker, who drifts into Milla’s life and also just what will be happening on the specified date.

Abruptly we switch to Lemmer, having breakfast with his girlfriend in a cafe in his small village when a local farmer asks him to ride shotgun on a smuggling expedition. Despite the fact that this violates Lemmer’s Number One Rule (Don’t Get Involved) he can’t say no to his girlfriend, who wants him to ride along for the greater good of the black rhino. Lemmer knows little about the farmer other than the wry smile and shake of the head people give when mentioning his name. That gives him all the warning he needs to be on his guard.

At first these two stories seem entirely unrelated and I must admit I did spend a little part of the book wondering where on Earth the stories were going and how they were going to come together. This wondering amped up a notch when our third narrator, Mat Joubert entered the scene towards the end of the book. It wasn’t until the very end that everything suddenly began to tie together and things began to fall neatly into place and events crossed over and the characters wracked up connections to the different parts of the stories and to each other, including some small ones that I think were more for just amusement than any real contribution to the story (such as the bikies that interrupt Lemmer’s breakfast that he later sees while he is on the smuggling trip).

Trackers is an extremely good read – you know from reading the blurb (or you would if you actually did that, unlike me it appears) that everything will tie together in the end and the ride is all in the journey to get there through a cast of very colourful characters, some very likable and some not so! The plot is tighter than a drum, the action never-ending and the pace is perfect. I fell in love with Lemmer, which I mentioned earlier in my review of Blood Safari so if I had one complaint about this book it would be Not Enough Lemmer! One section in the book and a cameo at the end is definitely not enough! I did very much enjoy Mat Joubert as a character and will be requesting in the book/s (I’m unsure if there’s more than 1, I haven’t had time to search yet) from my local library that feature him before his foray into being a private eye.

I’m so glad that the Global Reading Challenge 2011 has led me to discover this author! It’s exactly why I undertook the challenge last year, because I have tended to stick to American and Australian authors and settings with a sprinkle of British – they would have made up 99% of my books read so entering into a challenge like the this one has pushed me to seek out new settings and authors and I’ve been rewarded by finding an author such as Deon Meyer. South Africa is a fascinating setting with so much going on and it’s still a country that is changing and developing in its ways so there’s plenty to write about, especially crime wise!

Even if you’re not really a lover of crime fiction (and I’m not, to be honest, it makes up a fairly small percentage of my reads) then give Meyer a go. I can definitely recommend Blood Safari and this one and will be reviewing more of his novels in the near future.

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