Book Review: A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn

This is the debut novel of Malla Nunn, and it’s my first time reading anything from her. I’ve never heard of her until the fateful day I discovered this book. I came across this novel by mere luck. After reading the Detective Darko Dawson series by Kwei Quartey, I was having a bad case of withdrawal and needed another detective series to quench my thirst. So, I went online and searched for African crime fictions and this was one of my search results. I consider this luck because most times when I search for novels to read online I usually don’t find good books.

This book is set in South Africa during the 50s when apartheid was very ripe. It was the worst time to be black in South Africa. And unfortunately, a white police captain is murdered in a small town between South Africa and Mozambique. Talk of the worst thing that can possibly happen in that time if viewed from a black man’s lens. You just know black people will be suspects whether they did it or not. The interesting thing about this police captain is that he is admired by some black and white people, in fact, his best friend, also a police officer, is black. The captain is Afrikaner and sees himself as an African.

To solve the mystery of his murder, detective sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is called in to investigate. On the other hand, the power hungry ruling party has their own agenda and did everything within their power to derail his investigation. Being the good and thorough detective he is, he uncovers secrets that the captain’s family will rather have remain hidden. Secrets that will weaken and destroy the government’s fake sense of superiority. He also solves the murder but the higher authority are more interested in pinning the murder on an innocent black man just so their little secret will remain hidden.

I thought this was a well written book. You could feel the anger, pain, hatred and suffering of that era. Someone who don’t know much about the evils of apartheid will be able to understand how this was one of the worst times in human history. This is a series and I’ve read the next book (which I’ll be reviewing soon) and I intend to read all books in the series. I read both books back in May…yeah I know…I’m reviewing them one month later ☺️


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