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Publisher's Summary

A young woman makes a terrible confession to a priest. An honorable man takes his own revenge for an unspeakable tragedy. An aging inspector tries to get himself sober while taking on the most difficult case of his career. From this beginning, Deon Meyer weaves a story of astonishing complexity and suspense, as Inspector Benny Griessel faces off against a dangerous vigilante who has everything on his side, including public sympathy.

A gruesome abuse case has hit the newsstands, and one man has taken it upon himself to stand up for the children of Cape Town. When the accused is found stabbed through the heart by spear, it's only the beginning of a string of bloody murders - and of a dangerous dilemma for detective Griessel. The detective is always just one step behind as someone slays the city's killers.

But the paths of Griessel and the avenger collide when a young prostitute lures them both into a dangerous plan - and the two find themselves with a heart-stopping problem that no system of justice could ever make right.

©2008 Deon Meyer (P)2012 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

“Complex, finely wrought characters, keen psychological insight, and a compelling plot.... Easily Meyer’s finest effort to date.” (Publishers Weekly)

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Overall

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  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 11-02-15

Excellent

This was my first Deon Meyer, downloaded based on the review of a reader I follow. At first, I thought this was going to be just another police procedural. It turned out to be much more than I expected. The characters are great and the plot really takes off. With twists I never saw coming but which made total sense once revealed. Immediately downloaded the second book in the series. (Simon Vance, as always, is excellent.)

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacobus
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 06-05-15

Meet Benny Griesel, South Africa's Sherlock Holmes

What I appreciate about Deon Meyer's books is the realistic and believable context that he captures in words and uses as a stage for his characters to act out their lives. He has done miticilous research on the way the South African Police Service functions and has tapped into the main concerns, fears and believes that are occupying the South African psyche at the time his books are published. All his books becomes realistic sketches of the South African landscape at the time of writing.

This is the first of six books about detective Benny Griesel, an alcoholic whose fight is not only against the ever engulfing crime commited on the Western Cape landscape, but also with the bottle. Seen from this angle he is a credible South African Sherlock Holmes. Yet, Benny Griesel has much more baggage that Holmes. Scarcly a gentlemen, his marriage is "on the rocks," his relationships are a mess, he trusts his instincts, and is guided by a dubious moral and ethical compass. To my mind, this is what makes the rogue detective effective and steadfast.

No wonder that "Devil's Peak" was awarded the Martin Beck Award by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers in 2010, the Readers’ Award from Critiques Libres for Best Crime Novel or Thriller in 2010, France, and the ATKV Afrikaans Prose Prize for 2004, South Africa.

Meyer is a master of characterisation, misdirection and using narrative time to keep you guessing. In this novel, Benny Griesel is on the "spoor" of a serial killer. This book must be read (or listened to) against the national narrative of reconciliation that was predominant in South Africa in 2002-2003. In an ingenious way Meyer contributes to the debate by letting an ex-MK veteran, Thobela "Tiny" Mpayipheli, cross paths with a police member form the old South African Police Force, Benny Griesel. Not one of them can claim that he has the moral high ground. Reconciliation seems to happen not only when you see the good in each other, but when you accept the other with his or her flaws. (So by the way, in his novel "Heart of the Hunter" you can follow Thobela Mpayipheli's further.)

I think it is important to mention that "Devil's Peak" and all the other books of Deon Meyer are translated from Afrikaans. I have listened and read most of his books in Afrikaans and found listening to him in English an adjustment. The texture of Cape Afrikaans that shines through in his books are lost in translation and the English choice of words is sometimes surprising, but this a fairly decent translation and captures the spirit of the Afrikaans novel very well.

What about the narration? Well, this is where I must take my hat of for Simon Vance. He gives a solid performance. His voice brings the characters to life (though I have to deal with Nic de Jager's Afrikaans narration also at the back of my head, having listened to the other Benny Griesel novels in Afrikaans.) Vance has tried his level best to master the few Afrikaans phrases and words that has been left untranslated in the English version (but most of the times with explanation). He has done much better than most people who have never heard Afrikaans. Unfortunately he butchers some words seriously, especially one or two place names. Fortunately, his exceptional narration, insight and voice control extinguishes these mispronounciations. Most listeners will not even notice it.

I highly recommend this book to listeners who likes a thrillers, a good detective story and wants to know something of South Africa. I invite you, meet Benny Griesel, one of the best detectives in the South African Police Service, a South African Sherlock Holmes (who had nothing to do with the alleged FIFA bribe to host the Football World Cup in our country).

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathleen
  • Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • 09-29-12

Another Capetown police procedural, very good.

Another book about modern Capetown, South Africa. The primary officer in this story is Inspector Denny Griesel. He has spent much of the past decade in his police work drunk. He can’t stand the pain of things he is forced to encounter in his job, post traumatic stress, and he drinks to stop the pain. But he has finally reached a point where he wants to stop. He’s tried before, and manages, after getting dried out, to be sober for a brief period of time but then falls off the wagon. His wife has finally had enough and kicks him out and says she won’t consider staying married to him unless he can stay sober for at least six months. He is in the process of trying to get through that period, and trying to establish for the first time a relationship with his children. The main case he is dealing with here is again something that initially looks like a serial killer at work, but the police soon realize that the killer focuses on killing men or women who have harmed or murdered children. Benny thinks that this man, whoever he is, must have had the tragic loss of a child, and he sets out to track him down. We have drug lords, sex workers, and one man avenging children, and Benny’s painful task of staying sober. Very good.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Wow! This was terrific!

Thanks to previous Audible reviewers, I took a chance on this one and am glad I did. This is an exquisitely plotted, well-written and complex police procedural set in South Africa. The characters have a lot of depth and the structure is tense and unusual. There are a few gory details, but for the most part it isn't a violent book. Simon Vance does a marvelous job of the narration. As usual. I'll definitely look for more of Deon Meyer's books.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Spectacular characters, narrator and story

My headline sums it up. Fallible, believable, main character and great story told from varying viewpoints. The author jumps around to numerous characters, so I admit to sometimes being a little confused early in the story, but once I was more into it, it wasn't an issue. I found the pace of the novel fine and the narrator is tops. The narrator couldn't be better; he enhanced the story and elevated the written word.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 10-12-16

Exceptional storytelling

It’s difficult to find mysteries/procedurals anymore that have something unique to offer. Down-and-out detectives dragging their emotional baggage with them throughout an investigation populated with stock characters and predictable twists have made me a somewhat jaded but still loyal mystery reader. And then I found Devils Peak. This still has some of the standard elements mentioned above, but the difference is in the quality of the story telling.

Told from the POV of 3 primary characters, none of them in first person (thank goodness – so tired of that format), Meyer unfolds the narrative slowly, almost teasingly, with great respect for character development and a compelling story line. Braiding the three plot-lines together is intricate but easily followed, each segment feeding the next, resulting in finely drawn suspense and anticipation keeping the audible pages turning compulsively. The tone is somewhat dark and gritty, reminding me in style (but not plot) of Adrian McKinty. So be prepared for a significant level of strong language and violence, none of which is gratuitous for this genre. The trajectory of the tale and its resolution remain true to character, leaving me with a satisfied sense of closure at the end, and a strong affection for Benny Griessel.

Simon Vance’s reading is smooth and assured through some complicated names. I have no way of judging the accuracy of his pronunciations, but can say that his ability to give individual voice to all characters regardless of gender or accent enhanced the enjoyment of the listen. Although I don’t often commit to series (they quickly become formulaic) I am likely to make an exception in this case.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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The South African Michael Connelly

Where does Devil's Peak rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

If you liked Harry Bosch, you'll love the characters created by Deon Meyer, a South African writer--espcially Bennie!

What other book might you compare Devil's Peak to and why?

Any of Michael Connelly's books

Which scene was your favorite?

The end

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Watch out for the curves.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Deon Meyer -- a fresh voice in detective stories!

Would you listen to Devil's Peak again? Why?

I did.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

Simon Vance was the reason I chose this book. Usually listen to him reading Trollope, but he is superb in any genre.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I couldn't turn it off, and finished the book in 2 days.

Any additional comments?

Many mystery writers churn out plots that are formulaic and simply boring. Deon Meyer is a fresh voice in the mystery genre. If you have ever been to South Africa or followed its history over the past two centuries, you will quickly realize he has a wealth of material at his disposal to keep his stories interesting.

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Just okay

Not as great as the reviews are. Had it not been for Simon Vans, I would not have finished the book. Kept going on and on, definitely not getting any more of this series.

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  • Polly
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 03-28-17

Great Characters and Good Story

Excellent narration and a good story with believable characters. The sub-story about alcoholism was painfully real, and the sex-worker plot was sometimes difficult to hear but true to life.

I would prefer NOT to know who did it in advance ... I like to figure out the mystery. In this book, there is no mystery. It is a matter of watching the police detective figure it out and getting to know some very complex characters. I do recommend this book.