Meyer’s rangy, ambitious fourth suspense novel shows the man who starred in the author’s impressive debut in a startling new light.
Someone is stalking the South African town of Umtata, executing criminals who prey on young children. The vigilante’s chosen weapon is an assegai, a Zulu spear, and his victims, child molesters and rapists who believed that sex with a baby could banish the AIDS virus, are as deserving a bunch as you could imagine. So it would be hard for DI Benny Griessel, who heads the task force charged with finding the killer the press has dubbed Artemis, to motivate himself even under ideal conditions. As it is, however, conditions for Griessel are considerably less than ideal. His wife Anna, sick of his drinking and abuse, has tossed him out of the house. Charged with identifying and arresting a local folk hero, Griessel would be even more discouraged if he knew that his quarry was Thobela Mpayipheli, the Xhosa farmer who headlined Heart of the Hunter (2004). Mpayipheli is bent on avenging the murder of his adopted son. Though he finds no lack of surrogate victims, he goes at length after Carlos Sangrenegra, the possessive Colombian lover of prostitute Christine van Rooyen, and trouble boils over for Mpayipheli, for van Rooyen and for Griessel, who’s already in hot water because some civic-minded colleague compromised his investigation by tipping off the newspapers about his private demons. Meyer (Dead Before Dying, 2006, etc.) piles on the complications, doling out exposition via an intermittent confession van Rooyen makes to an exceptionally patient priest, before ending with a show-stopping tableau bringing the cop and the vigilante together.
The real drama hangs on every exchange between members of the multiracial police force and the citizens they’re sworn to protect.