Please note: Silent Valley has also been published under the alternate title Blessed Are the Dead.
A remote town. A girl of rare and exquisite beauty. A murder that silences a whole community.
The body of a 17-year-old girl has been found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, near Durban. She is the daughter of a Zulu chief, destined to fetch a high bride price. Was Amahle as innocent as her family claims, or is her murder a sign that she lived a secret life?
Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is sent to investigate. He must enter the guarded worlds of a traditional Zulu clan and a white farming community to gather up the clues Amahle left behind and bring her murderer to justice. But the silence in the valley is deafening, and it seems that everyone - from the uncooperative local police officer, to the white farm boy who seems obsessed with the dead girl - has something to hide.
With no cause of death and no motive, Cooper's investigation is blocked at each turn. Can he tough it out, or will the small-town politics that stir up his feelings about the past be more than he can bear?
In this pause-resisting tale of murder and mystery, Nunn entangles us in a rich and complex web of witchcraft, tribalism, taboo relationships...and plain old-fashioned greed.
©2012 Malla Nunn (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"One of our best crime writers." (SA Life)
"Will ... resonate in your mind long after you have turned the last page." (Courier Mail)
I chose this book because I enjoyed a previous one narrated by Humphrey Bower. Actually, "enjoyed" is too plain a word. His vocal range, the accents he adopts, and his ability to portray women without sounding falsetto convinced me that I needed to listen to more of his narration. This book is interesting because it is by a South African author, set in the apartheid times of South Africa. I was intrigued by the promise of South African accents in the narration. I was not disappointed. Sometimes - every now and again - the accent would sound a little off, but Humphrey Bower still managed to get huge diversity and accuracy in the voices of Cooper and Tshabala - the protagonists - as well as being able to portray convincing Afrikaners, Englishmen and women, and tribal characters.
I found the historical insight and psychological assessment of the apartheid years accurate and interesting. As a South African myself, I thought that the human impact of the inequalities was depicted very insightfully by Malla Nunn. That said, it did not dominate the story, or overshadow the intrigue of the murder. I could not second guess "whodunnit" and enjoyed the unfolding of the story, and the development of the characters.
A good story which draws you into the South African way of life and the frustration felt by the indigenous people before apartheid. Narration was, for me, brilliant and really brought the story to life.
"GOOD JOB MALLA NUNN"
The short answer is the combination of Malla Nunn and her story telling prowess and the top narrator on the planet…Humphrey Bower
The other two Emmanuel Cooper books.
Malla Nunn would be foolish in the extreme if she used anyone else.
There is no-one in the class of Humphrey Bower.
Both Bower and Nunn paint the picture very well.
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