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HEART OF THE HUNTER by Deon Meyer Kirkus Star


by Deon Meyer

Pub Date: July 12th, 2004
ISBN: 0-316-93549-2
Publisher: Little, Brown

Out of post-apartheid South Africa comes a thriller good enough to and nip at the heels of le Carré.

Thobela Mpayipheli is six-foot-three, a giant of a man so (naturally) they call him “Tiny.” During the Struggle, he was an ANC (African National Congress) hero, a ferocious and decorated fighter. But that was then: Tiny’s now is Miriam Nzuluwazi, the “tall, lean, strong and beautiful woman” who kisses him each night when he arrives home from his low-level, low-profile job in Cape Town. Miriam, her small son, their small house, that’s Tiny modest life—and it’s a life he loves. But the advent of a perfectly ordinary woman named Monica Kleintjes sends it crashing. Monica is the daughter of old comrade Johnny Kleintjes, who is in serious trouble, and to whom Tiny owes a debt of honor. If he fails to deliver a certain information-packed disk to a certain blood-thirsty band of terrorists, Johnny's a dead man, Monica tells him, handing him the disk. Tiny, a closet Romantic, as perhaps all great warriors are at their core, believes he has no choice but to accept the mission. Naturally, the disk turns out to be eagerly sought by a variety of inimical entities: among them, the CIA, al Qaeda, and the still fledgling South African government. As he zigzags through Africa on a stolen motorcycle, Tiny, now an object of intense and frequently murderous interest, tries, for the sake of survival, to sort out the conflicting realities governing his situation. He discovers, however, that like the desperate ex-hero on the BMW bike, “the truth is a moving target.”

Wonderful setting; rich, colorful cast, headed by a valiant/vulnerable protagonist who makes empathy easy. Impossibly convoluted, of course—hey, it’s a suspense novel—but fans of the genre won’t want to miss Meyer’s US debut.