A Beautiful Place to Die: An Emmanuel Cooper Mystery
Award-winning screenwriter Malla Nunn delivers a stunning and darkly romantic crime novel set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper -- a man caught up in a time and place where racial tensions and the raw hunger for power make life very dangerous indeed.
In a morally complex tale rich with authenticity, Nunn takes readers to Jacob's Rest, a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique. It is 1952, and new apartheid laws have recently gone into effect, dividing a nation into black and white while supposedly healing the political rifts between the Afrikaners and the English. Tensions simmer as the fault line between the oppressed and the oppressors cuts deeper, but it's not until an Afrikaner police officer is found dead that emotions more dangerous than anyone thought possible boil to the surface.
When Detective Emmanuel Cooper, an Englishman, begins investigating the murder, his mission is preempted by the powerful police Security Branch, who are dedicated to their campaign to flush out black communist radicals. But Detective Cooper isn't interested in political expediency and has never been one for making friends. He may be modest, but he radiates intelligence and certainly won't be getting on his knees before those in power. Instead, he strikes out on his own, following a trail of clues that lead him to uncover a shocking forbidden love and the imperfect life of Captain Pretorius, a man whose relationships with the black and coloured residents of the town he ruled were more complicated and more human than anyone could have imagined.
The first in her Detective Emmanuel Cooper series, A Beautiful Place to Die marks the debut of a talented writer who reads like a brilliant combination of Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene. It is a tale of murder, passion, corruption, and the corrosive double standard that defined an apartheid nation. I
loose in Winston. “Stay here. I’ll send Hansie for you when things have settled.” “I will return when you say so.” “Thank you,” Emmanuel said. Shabalala had gone against his instincts and given up the opportunity to take Louis back to his mother. Winston’s violent threats were reason enough not to return to the homestead, but the Zulu constable held the course. Emmanuel raced back to the house and found Hansie waiting for him at the cattle grid. The teenager’s uniform was streaked with dust
stop the blade. When he was older, bigger, he’d stand and fight. Behind them, the screams of their dying mother chased them farther and farther into the darkness… The sports car fired up with a roar and a spray of loose gravel as Hansie sped out onto the road. Emmanuel imagined the grin on Hansie’s face as he revved the sleek Jag across the veldt. He heard the blast of a horn, then footsteps and voices raised in surprise. The Security Branch was taking the bait. Car engines turned over and
placed the voice. It belonged to the coloured mechanic who’d alibied Zweigman. A lanky man with dark brown skin and a gold filling set into his front tooth. “Anton Samuels,” Emmanuel said, still on his knees. “Number one mechanic in Jacob’s Rest. That’s what Constable Shabalala told me.” “I will be as soon as my shop is up and running again,” Anton said, and stepped forward to offer Emmanuel his hand. “I’ve got a month or so to go before I rebuild, but I’ll get there.” The safety was back on
hungry for a victory against enemies of the state. Lieutenant Lapping blinked hard, twice, then got to his feet and strode to the doorway. He put his hand out and Dickie placed a brown paper envelope in it with a look that sent a chill down Emmanuel’s back. What the hell did they have? It was good. It had to be. Keep calm, he told himself. You’ve been through a war. You’ve seen things that killed other men and you survived. What was there to be scared of? “You know what’s in here?” Piet held
injuries. “Bad. But, thank God, not fatal.” “How bad?” “A laceration to the scalp which will require stitching. Severe concussion but the skull is not fractured.” Zweigman the surgeon took control. “We will need to move her inside so I can clean her up and begin closing this wound. Please, go into the house and locate towels and sheets while Constable Shabalala and I move her to a bedroom.” Emmanuel followed orders and soon Zweigman was setting up. He snapped open his medical bag and placed