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A Beautiful Place to Die Paperback – 1 Apr 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Picador Africa (1 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770101578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770101579
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,148,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Crime writers understand how place exposes character but the best, like Nunn, explore the idea that place is also fate.' -- The Autralian

'Page-turning, clever and multi-layered in its portrayal of the people and landscape of Apartheid South Africa. I loved it.' -- Minette Walters

'Smooth prose and a deft plot make this novel a welcome addition to crime fiction set in South Africa.'
-- Publishers Weekly

'[Nunn] has written a first crime novel of considerable power.' -- Sydney Morning Herald --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'[Nunn] has written a first crime novel of considerable power.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 5 Sep 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel could be classed as an 'historical detective story' but there is nothing chintzy or twee about it. Malla Nunn mixes the chaotic social situation of post-war South Africa with an intriguing murder investigation.
The story reveals how apartheid affected different classes/colours of people in the decade after WW2, and gave me a whole new insight into the polyglot nature of SA society. But it's not just a history lesson -- the plot, which revolves around the murder of an Afrikaans Police Captain, is intriguing in its own right. The core characters of the tale are interesting too: the protagonist is an isolated detective from Jo-burg, shell-shocked from WW2 and out on a limb against the interests of the security service. The hero has to rely on various locals including a Jewish emigre who has his own share of secrets, and the native population including the dead Captain's 'spiritual brother'. Almost everyone has something to hide -- and almost all of the secrets revolve around the tightening race laws of the time.
The writing is extremely accessible and although many of the plot devices are conventional I didn't find that 'A Beautiful Place To Die' was in any way predictable. I hope Malla Nunn follows it up with more stories set in the same time and place so we can see how some of the characters develop... and her descriptions of the veldt and the township are stunning.
A more than competant debut.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Elliott TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Jun 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On the surface `A Beautiful Place To Die' is a fast moving `whodunnit' thriller with a 'good-cop hero' to be admired by readers, and with the added charm of location around a country town in the beautiful veldt of South Africa. However throughout the hero's investigations he is subject to high levels of uncontrollable influence with perhaps an over abundance of hidden secrets to be discovered and with credibility stretched for some of those he encounters. This leads to a few abrupt changes in scenarios as the narrative unfolds, with parts of the plot hardly plausible, characters not fully explained, and outcomes of relationships incomplete. Even so, as a `whodunnit' there is a compelling degree of intrigue, a steady build up of excitement, and a reasonable conclusion - but the book's added special ingredient is a forceful indictment of South Africa's insidious Apartheid system and an exposé of man's inhumanity. Malla Nunn skilfully lays bare political ideology, racism, bigotry, religious mania, injustice, violence etc. via interwoven relationships and personality conflicts. This aspect of `A Beautiful Place To Die' lifts it above the status of a normal thriller and overcomes storyline criticisms - but short of a 5-star rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David VINE VOICE on 3 Jun 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A Beautiful Place To Die and the first novel by author Malla Nunn. I won't go into too much plot detail and spoil any suprises for you. This book is set in Africa during the 1950's when aparthied was in force, and concerns the brutal murder of Captain Willem Pretorius an Afrikaner police office. Detective Emmanuel Cooper is sent to investigate and discovers there are hidden secrets in Captain Willem's past - secrets that some will kill to preserve.

Malla Nunn was born in Swaziland, Southern Africa and has used her knowledge of the culture to create a facinating book with well fleshed out characters at a time when the colour of a persons skin matters more than justice. This is a very enjoyable book set in troubled times - I hope there will be more forthcoming novels from Malla Nunn.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 10 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback
This novel could be classed as an 'historical detective story' but there is nothing chintzy or twee about it. Malla Nunn mixes the chaotic social situation of post-war South Africa with an intriguing murder investigation.
The story reveals how apartheid affected different classes/colours of people in the decade after WW2, and gave me a whole new insight into the polyglot nature of SA society. But it's not just a history lesson -- the plot, which revolves around the murder of an Afrikaans Police Captain, is intriguing in its own right. The core characters of the tale are interesting too: the protagonist is an isolated detective from Jo-burg, shell-shocked from WW2 and out on a limb against the interests of the security service. The hero has to rely on various locals including a Jewish emigre who has his own share of secrets, and the native population including the dead Captain's 'spiritual brother'. Almost everyone has something to hide -- and almost all of the secrets revolve around the tightening race laws of the time.
The writing is extremely accessible and although many of the plot devices are conventional I didn't find that 'A Beautiful Place To Die' was in any way predictable. I hope Malla Nunn follows it up with more stories set in the same time and place so we can see how some of the characters develop... and her descriptions of the veldt and the township are stunning.
A more than competant debut.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Wright VINE VOICE on 24 July 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Malla Nunn's debut novel "A Beautiful Place To Die" cleverly blends a who-dunnit thriller with life in South Africa during the apartheid. The main strength of the book is the description of Africa in the 1950's and the relationships between all the people in Jacob's Rest at that time, as well as the description of the town itself and surrounding areas.

Although I was intrigued enough in Captain Pretorius' murder to keep reading I felt that the plot jumped around quite a bit and some of the twists were not entirely believable. However the pace quickened towards the ending and the loose ends were tied up into a satisfactory ending.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading books set in African history.
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