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4.4 out of 5 stars43
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 22 April 2008
Three very flawed but sympathetic characters populate this novel. There is Thobela Mpayipheli, a Black South African who was trained as an assassin by the East German secret police. Then there is Benny Griessel, alcoholic detective. And lastly, Christine van Rooyen, a prostitute with a three-year-old daughter. Somehow, their lives intertwine in a gripping story which keeps the reader off-balance all the way.

Initially, Thobela is introduced as a farmer who recently lost his wife, leaving him with a young boy who he loves very much. The boy is shot dead during an armed robbery, setting off a chain of events which leads Thobela to act as an avenging vigilante against abusers of children. Benny, once (and possibly even in his present continual alcoholic haze) a superior detective, is kicked out of his home by his long-suffering wife with the admonishment that he might be permitted to return if he stays sober for six months. Meanwhile, he is placed in charge of two important cases, including the serial killer of abused children. Christine's story alternates with the other two as she sits confessing to a priest. Her tale plays a pivotal role in the lives of the other two.

This is the author's fourth novel, each superior reading. His complex stories and descriptions of South Africa are exceptional, his characters unusual and graphic, his works top-notch. Like his previous efforts, Devil's Peak is highly recommended.
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on 24 June 2009
This took me a little while to get into, but once I did I was hooked. The reason it took me a while to get into is that it isn't structured like a typical thriller. It is much more intrusive than most thrillers -- it really tries to get inside the heads of its character, most of whom are pathological in some way (reforming alcoholic, cutter, vengeful ex-ANC hitman and so on), and does a pretty good job. I certainly found the characters credible. It also gives a good, unsentinental account of life in contemporary, post-apartheid South Africa. I haven't read anything else by Meyer, but on the strength of this I certainly intend to do so in the future. It is a couple of points below my favourites, Peter Temple, Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly, but it is still very, very good.
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on 22 August 2007
This thriller is an absolute cracker; one which makes meals, work and friends very inconvenient interruptions until you have finished reading the very last page. Meyer adds spice to a putrefying contemporary South African stew of murder, organised crime, rape and corruption to produce a very satisfying detective story. While this is a thriller first and foremost, the complex South African social backgound is handled with the refreshing honesty, clarity and bluntness that you would expect from an Afrikaans writer who has accepted and acknowledged the injustices of the past, loves his country and believes in it's future. The context may be a little strange for those who are unfamiliar with life in South Africa today, but I recommend perseverence!
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on 10 May 2013
Deon Mayer is a detective thriller writer in a different league to most. This is the second book of his I have read, and cannot wait to buy another one. My first was 13 hours and I was dubious that Devils Peak could retain the same gut wrenching suspense......wrong, it's an absolute stormer. Detective Benny Griesel is on the case again and his personal life is in a worse state than ever. In Griessel, Mayer has created one of the best detective characters since Popeye Doyle.

The novel is set again mainly against the beautiful backdrop of Cape Town ( must go one day ) with an exotic ethnic
mix that makes London seem homogenous. Post apartheid politics and the policy of Affirmitive action allows the introduction of a fabulous cast of police men and women of different tribes, vast range of competence or in some cases incompetence and always, always the pervasive stink of corruption in high places. The bad guys are the stuff of nightmares and out of the chaos and carnage comes a black warrior, deadly a true assassin with one mission in life....
total revenge. The plot is incredible and very believable and actually quite frightening.

Deon Mayer paints a vast canvas of a developing nation trying to keep the lid on a pressure cooker of social, racial and political problems. Intelligent and utterly brilliant.
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on 4 May 2012
Deon Meyer has always had a gift for creating memorable, believable characters, who drive the plot through their interactions, rather than just being people to whom plots happen. "Devil's Peak" is classic Meyer, and it succeeds, among other things, in creating characters who are superficially like the stereotypes of crime fiction, but actually have the solidity of real people. We've all read stories about brilliant-but-alcoholic policemen, but the character of Bennie not only describes, in flesh-crawling detail, what alcoholism must be like for the victim and the family, but also how a brilliant detective goes about his business. Likewise, Christine, the white prostitute, is neither a victim nor a callous manipulator, but a real human being. Only the assegai-wielding Xhosa, Thobela, seems a bit unconvincing, and Meyer seems uncomfortable with his back-story, which is very lightly sketched in. But that doesn't harm the plot, which fits together like a piece of precision machinery. The South African setting will strike anyone who knows the country as absolutely authentic. South Africa is simply presented as it is, with its strengths and weaknesses, and not just an exotic backdrop.There are few enough decent crime writers from what used to be called the Third World, and Meyer occupies a stellar position among them.
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on 21 December 2013
I came upon this writer by accident upon reading an interview with Ian Rankin.

I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel with burnt out Detective Inspector Benny Griessel hanging on to his career by a thread as one of the main characters knowing that if taken by it there were others in the series. And indeed I was taken by it. A relatively slow build up to a real page turning finale. Set in the post apartheid era there is no black and white, no clear moral compass,but merely varying shades of grey as all the characters try to come to terms with and make a success of living in the new somewhat corrupt South Africa while carrying the baggage of living in the old South Africa.

I particularly like the way the author structures his plot through the three very different storylines of the three main characters and how he successfully weaves them together in the final gripping third of the book. The authors tendency to devote small sections in each chapter to the three different storylines (some sections a single paragraph) can be a little disconcerting but does not take long to become accustomed to.

Very much recommended and I will certainly follow this up with the second in the series.
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on 12 May 2010
This author was recommended to me by a friend who shares my taste in novels.
My first impression was it was a little disjointed and jumped from character to character but very quickly settled down as the story line flowed seamlessly from one to the other. As a part-time resident in S.Africa, I identified with places and streets which made the story more real. I look forward to the other books by this author. I loved the ending.
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on 6 May 2012
The real strengths of Devil's Peak are the characterisation, plotting and sense of place. Meyer provides an intricate story based on three in-depth character studies embedded in the turmoil of South African society, its criminal underbelly, and overstretched and corrupt police force. Over the course of the novel their back stories are revealed and teased apart as their lives start to intersect. The story moves at a steady pace, at times a little too slow for my tastes, slowed by detailed description, as Meyer carefully moves the inter-connecting pieces into place, but it builds to a page-turning finale. At its heart, the story is about the strengths and failings of people, families and institutional systems, and it raises questions about human nature, justice and the balance between self-destruction, love and survival. Benny Griessel and Meyer's storytelling reminded me of early Harry Bosch stories by Michael Connelly. Meyer writes with the same intensity, layering, and level of detailed knowledge that Connelly does, raising the story above the average police procedural fare. The overall result is a very fine read and I'll certainly be keeping an eye out Meyer's other novels.
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on 30 October 2011
Deon Meyer has created a great set of characters and for anyone who has visited Cape Town and the surrounding area the South African backdrop adds additional interest. I was given this book by my parents who both enjoyed it immensely and subsequently I have lent it to friends who also gave it the thumbs up. I must get my hands on some of the author's other books.
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on 13 June 2011
Devil's Peak is the fifth Deon Mayer novel that I have read and I think it is the best. It is fast moving, deftly plotted and strong on character. The principal three protagonists are DI Benny Griessel an alcoholic detective desperately clinging on to his career, Christine an ex prostitute, and Thobela a former freedom fighter turned assegai wielding revenge motivated assassin. Of the three most time is given to Benny as he battles with his demons and tries to keep a relationship with his family. The skilful plotting leads to an exciting and plausible- and pleasingly open ended - conclusion . Meyer clearly knows Cape Town very well and anyone familiar with the city will be able to follow the movements of the characters highway by highway, street by street. Thobela and Griessel both appear in other Meyer novels.A thoroughly satisfying read.
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