There is definitely no dearth when it comes to thriller releases from international authors these days. From Scandinavia and beyond, the tired genre has been reinvigorated by new voices unknown outside their native tongues. One such writer is South African Deon Meyer and his novel Trackers.
Set in South Africa it starts out as a race against time unraveling of a terrorist plot, turns left into animal smuggling, then right into an illicit love and finally a missing person tale. Inevitably, they all careen into the first thread.
Translated from Afrikaans, Trackers stitches distinct storylines together to complete the novel’s fabric. We as readers know that somehow each different tangent and character, from the 40-something journalist turned intelligence agency minion to the risk-taking security contractor turned unwitting smuggler, will find some union.
A good thriller suspends that constant ‘when will these plot lines converge’ whisper in your head. Trackers does that.
Two of the characters featured in Trackers come from Meyer’s previous works and you do not need to have read the earlier novels to become engrossed in the story. We have a missing person, animal smuggling, intelligence minions ferreting out the truth and a woman caught up in a dangerous love.
Of the characters/storylines that we particularly enjoyed was hired gun, Lemmer.
Lemmer, a physically capable close protection specialist with experience in danger places, is coaxed into a high paying job to help bring a pair of rare black rhinos across to South Africa from Zimbabwe. Meyer’s familiarity with the region, its landscapes, its people and politics clearly pay off with Lemmer.
Smugglers, endangered species and shady businessmen collide in the thorny arid night of Lemmer’s part of Trackers. We would have read an entire novel based on this section alone.
The intell report writer, Milla, felt like a typical genre character. A lonely unhappy housewife who loses her objectivity and apparent sense of avoidance of danger when it comes to a mysterious man of danger in her life.
It frustrated us because we knew that Milla was going to follow the path of all love struck thriller females. Straight into the mouth of danger, completely suspending any credibility built by the character’s travails.
However, the devices of Milla’s diary entries, when intertwined with the greater story of her bosses in South African intelligence show Meyer’s skill as a thriller writer, able to salvage a trying character through a larger plot apparatus.
As for what ultimately binds all these stories together, what great threat is South Africa looking to expose, we won’t say as to avoid spoilers. But Meyer does a good job floating a climax, while dated, worth the wait.
Trackers is a true stand out modern thriller, both in style and content.
Trackers by Deon Meyer was purchased for review by Boston Book Bums