The Cobra (Deon Meyer)

2015, Hodder & Stoughton, Pages: 367 ISBN: 978-1-444-72376-9


So this was my first Deon Meyer book. I loved this book for many reasons. One, it is well written. Two, it is by a South African author. Three, having worked for the South African Police Services, it delivered on the inside day to day realities. Four, it is set in one of my favourite cities – Cape Town, my home for about three years. He captured the street life of the city, the train operations, the hustle and buzz of the V&A Waterfront and the scenic picturesque expanse of this iconic city.


Meyer writes a well plotted and thought out narrative about the ins and outs of what happens behind the scenes in the lives of people in a number of high profile offices of the police services, embassies, private businesses and the underworld. He writes like an insider. Having used real names for some of the ‘by the way’ characters in this story such as Richard Mdluli, and others, the story is personal, relatable, relevant as it is gripping.


A triple murder and a high profile foreigner goes missing in the wine suburb of Franschhoek, Cape Town, the big guns under the leadership of Captain Benny Griessel are called in to investigate. Inside politics, government secrets and interests threaten the investigation which places the investigation team in direct fire. On the other side of town, a smart pickpocket, who’s taking his sister through school with his illegal activities showcases the everyday realities of life around the Cape flats. Two parallel seemingly disjointed stories collide head on when the pickpocket steals from the wrong guy. The story is all tied together by one puzzling part, shell casings with a Cobra inscription wherever the obviously professional hits take place. The book keeps the two stories parallel so well that when they eventually come together one is sitting on the edge of the seat trying to piece the case together along with the investigators.


Meyer used brilliant writing style at the climax of the book where for a while, two separate scenes taking place at the same time are written together almost without paragraph marks. So like done in a movie, you jump from one scene to another at a moment’s notice, Riveting.


I dedicate this review to all police officers. Yours is a thankless job yet each day you bravely leave your families to daily face deadly criminals with the full knowledge that you might not return home. The fact that there are corrupt or police officers who are not doing their work will not stop me to praise the ones that do! I salute you all!!


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