Burgraff (Deacon’s Winter, 2013) takes his crime-fighting deacon out of the streets of Chicago and into the unfamiliar environs of South Africa.
In his role as a member of the secret society of the Gabrians, Deacon Adelius has spent the last two years using his street smarts and military experience to help rid the Archdiocese of Chicago of predatory priests. When he gets a letter from an old friend, however, his attention is drawn to a place far from the shores of Lake Michigan. Mike Thompson is a rough-and-tumble pilot who took a job smuggling what he thought was ivory out of South Africa. The cargo turned out to be heroin, and his bosses turned out to be very serious about theft. “If you are reading this, it means I’m dead,” the letter begins before asking for a favor. “I’ve hidden away some money, and I want you to take my daughter to it. It’s there to secure her future. There is a letter of explanation to her and a few other items. The thing is, old boy, she does not know that I’m her father.” After consulting his South African connections, Deacon sets off for Johannesburg. Thompson’s daughter is Kalina Sangweeni, a multilingual, multiracial woman who works for Hands of Hope Mission under the care of her three surviving “uncles,” or protectors. To help her and her brother find the cash, Deacon will have to race against Thompson’s murderers, who are anxious to recover the money he stole from them. Along the way, he’ll also have to figure whom among this South African circle he can trust…including a red-haired Peruvian woman whom he knows as Ginger Rose. Burgraff’s prose retains its hard-boiled notes while allowing for the novelty of Deacon’s fish-out-of-water experience: “As we approached Capetown, the blazing sunset caressed the vineyards of the Cape. The scene was absolutely stunning to this Chicago boy.” While some readers would have doubtlessly preferred another noirish Chicago tale—Burgraff’s attempts to render the dialects of the various nationalities is a bit awkward—others will enjoy this change of scenery for the gruff, Catholic avenger.
A functional crime sequel that explores a new setting.