Published: 6 November 2017
Publisher: Human & Rosseau
Series: Bennie Griessel (5.5)
Format Read: Physical Copy
Early on a May morning in the depth of South Africa’s winter, a woman’s naked body, washed in bleach, is discovered on a stone wall beside the N2 highway at the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass, some thirty-five miles from Cape Town. The local investigation stalls, so the case is referred to Captain Benny Griessel and his colorful partner Vaughn Cupido of the Hawks–the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations. The woman proves to be Alicia Lewis, an expert in old Dutch Masters paintings specializing in the recovery of valuable lost art. Discovering the two men she had contacted before coming to South Africa reveals what she was seeking–a rare painting by Carel Fabritius, Rembrandt’s finest student, not seen since it disappeared from Delft in 1654. But how Lewis died, why, and at whose hand shocks even the two veteran detectives.
I took this little novella with me on holiday last month for the of chance that I would have time to read. This is also the last book review I have of the books I read while on holiday. I know I never ended up doing a February Wrap up post but that was mainly due to the fact that I did not have that much going on on my blog. April might look better post wise…
South Africa is a big place and I did a lot of driving in a few day’s time. When we eventually got to my cousin’s place and handed in the car we hired I had some down time and just wanted to relax. I tried doing this with this novella. Even though this has a lot of subject matter that deals with things that could easily have happened before, I never knew I was going to have such fun with, macaber as it might sound. I think part of me ended up liking this a whole lot more due to the fact that I am now so far with the Sherlock Holmes series that I have been actively listening too in recent months. You can be on the lookout for the next Sunday with Sherlock post coming soon as I just finished it last week.
Deon Meyer is a South African author I have heard much about in recent years but never got interested in as I am not some one that really reads crime novels. But the setting along with the fact that it had some loose history with a Dutch artist’s famous painting that might have been rediscovered held quite some intrigue for me as I am now a South African living in The Netherlands. The Woman in the Blue Cloak is set in Cape Town, a place Milou and I just visited and takes place on the mountain pass as you leave Cape Town in the direction of where my mother lives. In short, I know of most of the places that are mentioned in this short little book. This novella was also translated into Dutch as part of Literature Week some time last year, I am proud of myself for having read another book in Dutch, even while in my home country.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed getting to know Bennie and his partner Cupido. The two had a form of banter I could hear taking place in my head as I read along. In the little notes I took I wrote down that this was quite a surprising read. Even if this is a book 5.5 in the series, I followed the story easily enough. Bennie and Cupido both have some sort of background that is probably set up in the books that come before this one. I was not looking for great character development with it being such a short book, yet I felt satisfied with what I got. This story, while having three plot points, I feel was so masterfully written and thought out that I said in my Good Reads review that Mr. Meyer has just earned another fan. I had so much fun reading through this short novella that I ended up wanting to binge buy the whole series… Not only was the setting a real place, but also the characters felt like people I could have easily bumped into on the streets of Cape Town on a visit, not as a criminal though, I do not want to be locked up in a prison in S.A…
For a 95 page novella I also wrote down that this was quite a profound read. Not only was I given little nostalgia moments as our detectives drove through the the different parts of Cape Town and surrounds, but there are also some hidden quirks written in a unique way regarding the interactions between people. Most notable of all was Cupido’s way of speaking, Deon nailed the Capetonian way of intermingling Afrikaans with English slang that so many people over there use beautifully. If you read this in English your experience might not pick up on it that much. Also, if you have not mixed or been to Cape Town before in your life you are not likely to understand what I am trying to explain here. Do not see this part as me talking down to those who have never traveled to Cape Town, I merely wanted to touch down on my personal experience with this novella. It is difficult to explain, yet I felt that being of South African decent, I might have taken a little more enjoyment from this than what someone who has never been to S.A or that knows about the culture would.
Wow, I believe I have said more about a 95 paged book than what I’ve said about books over the 600 page mark… I gave this novella a 5 out of 5 on GR and I would recommend it to those interested in reading a little crime series set in my home country. The “who done it” part of this was thought out really well and up until the end I was not expecting it to the be the person that it turned out to be. I will definitely be trying to read more Deon Meyer when I come across any. I have, in fact got another Dutch translation version of 13 Hours on the shelf that I have moved up on my TBR list.
Even if this is book 3 in the Griessel series, I believe they can all be read as stand-alones. Fun fact about the word Griesel in Afrikaans, it can be used as a synonym for creepy, grisly or macabre. I thought I could share that bit of useless information to anyone who is so inclined to learn something new. I just felt that our main character had the perfect surname for a person who from time to time deals with cases that his last name is well known for. Coincidence or well thought out, what do you think?
Have any of you ever heard about this author, or read any books by him? Does this sound like something you would be interested in? Tell me in the comments section down below if you please…