A Beautiful Place to Die

Narrated by: Saul Reichlin
Series: Detective Emmanuel Cooper, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
4 out of 5 stars (766 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Unfolding in 1952 South Africa, A Beautiful Place to Die is a riveting international mystery that flows from the pen of author Malla Nunn.

Police officer Emmanuel Cooper is dispatched to a remote town after a police captain is found murdered in a creek. Even though Cooper judges the crime open and shut, the government's feared Special Branch is summoned, making for an intrigue that will titillate any mystery fan.

©2009 Malla Nunn (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Worth listening to both as mystery and history

This mystery occurs post WWII in South Africa in the early days of Apartheid under the the Nationalist party. The brutality and degradation of the system is captured in this excellent mystery. I read the second book and then the first book but both are worth reading in any order. Characters are multi-dimensional and complex which added to the reality of the story. The reader is terrific and made the characters come alive. I certainly hope there will be more books to come by this author and reader.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Mystery in 1950's South Africa

The first in the Detective Emmanuel Cooper Mysteries, A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE is set in 1950's apartheid South Africa. Cooper is sent to investigate the murder of the local Afrikaner Police Captain --the father of the town's powerful Pretiorus family. He is aided by the town's only black Zulu police officer and a Jewish doctor transplant from WW2. Cooper is having to work secretly and carefully because of the politically powerful Security Branch, which is determined to ring a confession from a "black Communist" who was actually a man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Racial tensions dominate the investigation and the addition of the Immorality Laws (forbidding sex between the races) and a Peeping Tom case confuse everything. Then there is also Cooper's haunting by his old WW2 Scottish Sergeant Major. Secrets, forbidden photographs, twisted religion, and mixed race people confuse an already difficult case. Power, greed, and brutality are all too common as Cooper tries to stay away from the vengeance and muscles of those who have determined their own outcome choices.

It's hard to say that I enjoyed this book. I can say it rang very true of the times. The injustices and sheer evil of the situations and laws made for difficult reading at times, but perhaps that is what actually made this an excellent book. Excellent narration!

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

This book took me to another time and place where the color of your skin could mean everything. Worth the listen!

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is a "page-turner!"

This is a wonderfully riveting and haunting novel, taking place as it does in a disturbing time in South Africa. The characters are so well-drawn, as are their interactions, that I can see the story unfold in my mind's eye. The historical context makes the story "edge of your seat" suspenseful. It leaves me both outraged and sad as the apartheid attitudes and laws get played out. Cooper and his Zulu constable partner are a great pair, illustrating both the tensions between their races and the potential for good men to do what is right.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazingly Good Story and Narration

This one is worth the time and credit! The setting -- race-segregated South Africa -- is brought to listeners in a no-holds barred fashion. In that way, the story is hard to hear because there is no denying the horrendous things humans are capable of in relation to creating status for their own kind. This book is a very good mystery -- one that will keep you engaged and eager for more. I particularly enjoyed the twists and turns the detective encountered, never once revealing too much too soon.

This is a book that will leave you thinking hard about white history in Africa, the misinformed ideas (my opinion) we hear today about race, white supremacy and the value of human life. A very good book!

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful, well-written mystery

Although this novel provides fascinating background on the beginning of official apartheid in South Africa, it is first and foremost a murder mystery with great character development and storytelling. I was worried it would be preachy or depressing, but it's not. Definitely worth a listen.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

LOVED IT!

What made the experience of listening to A Beautiful Place to Die the most enjoyable?

I loved the reader. His voices were so great . I was so enthralled with the world he lived in. As much as I have lived, I was never really exposed to the open racism in South Africa as vividly as this expressed it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Beautiful Place to Die?

Cooper's experiences with the Shabalala were the best.

Have you listened to any of Saul Reichlin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I want to.

Any additional comments?

This was the whole package. Great story, awesome reader and great finish. What more could you ask for??

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful new historical crime fiction!

Malla Nunn has undertaken to set crime fiction in the complex and dangerous era of 1950s South Africa, just as apartheid was made national law. Her hero, a detective of English extraction, moves in and aroundAfrikaner, "colored" and black society. This book is exotic, illuminating, totally fascinating, and very assured and competent. The narration is superb, carefully delineating the differing accents. Looking forward to more!

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Police Procedural & The Pain Of Apartheid

I only lasted through the first chapter of this crime story/police procedural set in 1952 South Africa. I found this story of apartheid abhorrent and not a source of entertainment. The book drops the reader into a world that I don't understand and the author offers little in the way of explanation or insight into that world. The vocabulary was repetitive and the writing vague. Sorrowful and simply not for me.

65 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story

Have you listened to any of Saul Reichlin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I enjoy his narrations every time. His dialogue and accents are always believable. The story and the social environment of apartheid made for great listening.

12 people found this helpful