SALAMANDER COTTON by Richard Kunzmann


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In “the New South Africa,” a rich man’s murder rekindles interest in a half-forgotten crime.

South Africa is sunk in apartheid in 1965 when José Cauto, a black man, is accused of raping and killing Claudette Klamm, 19, the pampered daughter of a white mining boss and his race-conscious wife. Despite the fact that there’s no sign of Claudette, dead or alive, Cauto is tried, convicted and jailed. Thirty-nine years later, black Inspector Jacob Tshabalala of the Johannesburg police must deal with the brutal slaying of Bernard Klamm, Claudette’s father. Since the allegedly vengeful Cauto is no longer imprisoned, he’s naturally a prime suspect. But there are others. Bernard Klamm was detested by everyone, including his estranged wife. With a high-profile homicide on his hands, Tshabalala finds the absence of his former partner increasingly burdensome. In the aftermath of an emotionally shattering case, Harry Mason (Bloody Harvests, 2006) left the force four years ago. But he’s begun to heal, and he misses the work and his old partner so much that he’s easily lured back. The partnership restored, the salt-and-pepper pair buckles down to cope with a case that twists, turns and ends up far from any end they could have foreseen.

Despite some overplotting, two strong characters—and South Africa amounting to a third—make this young series one to watch.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-36034-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2007