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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best thriller I've ever read, I think!
Deon Meyer just goes from strength to strength. His great, loose set of novels about modern South Africa are a perfect mix of thrills, entertainment, emotional grip, and socio-political analysis. In previous books, Meyer has used the transformation of the police force from a hierarchical, all-white body into a multi-cultural, politically correct organisation, to confront...
Published on 22 Aug 2011 by Maxine Clarke

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A medley of the good and the bad
`Trackers' is very much a book of four loosely linked sections, and as such reads more like a collection of novellas than one defined novel. Each section switches plot, narrator and literary style, and whilst this does make the book more varied, there are clearly areas the author excels at and some that they don't. The problem is that there are just as many bad devices...
Published on 15 Aug 2011 by B. D. Breen


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best thriller I've ever read, I think!, 22 Aug 2011
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
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Deon Meyer just goes from strength to strength. His great, loose set of novels about modern South Africa are a perfect mix of thrills, entertainment, emotional grip, and socio-political analysis. In previous books, Meyer has used the transformation of the police force from a hierarchical, all-white body into a multi-cultural, politically correct organisation, to confront different perspectives and assumptions people make about modern South Africa (for example its widely reported high crime rate). In other novels, he's used a "PI" style device to similar effect, highlighting for example the ethics of gated communities and wild-animal/safari business. In Trackers, superbly translated from the Afrikaans as ever by Laura Seegers, Meyer combines these elements in a novel of several distinct sections. Each section concerns an apparently different story, linked by various interpretations of "tracking" from ancient to modern. We as readers know these stories are going to be related, but not how - and this is part of the constant tension of this marvellous novel. I won't reveal the plot here as I don't want to spoil anyone's enjoyment of the book and its various shocks of discovery, but part of the plot involves a government surveillance unit, with a moving story about a 40-something housewife desperate for liberation from her ghastly husband and son. Other parts re-introduce previous characters (Lemmer from Blood Safari and Matt Joubert from several previous novels, now retired from the police force and starting a new job in security) - but not having read earlier books does not detract from one's enjoyment of this one. In the end, the denouement is based on a slightly dated punchline - through no fault of the author, but a victim of the delays in the publication process. Even so, it packs a wallop, not necessarily in itself but in the outcome for some of the characters. Just enough details are tied up to provide a satisfactory finale, yet there are sufficient loose ends to make the reader extremely keen to read Deon Meyer's next book (though for sure it will not be a linear sequel to this one - this author is too clever for that).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and intelligent, 23 Nov 2011
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
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I thought that this was a very enjoyable, well written and engrossing thriller which ended up being two almost separate books which didn't quite mesh together in the end.

The plot revolves around a web of suspected terrorism, smuggling, gangs and organised crime. Dean Meyer is a very talented writer (excellently translated here) who can tell a terrific story full of fascinating and convincing insights into modern South Africa - a really strong feature of the book which never become dull or intrusive. His characters are well drawn and convincing and I found the whole book thoroughly gripping.

My reservations lie in the structure, which didn't quite work for me. The book is in four sections and the first three fit together excellently. However, we leave this story at a (slightly unconvincing) climax and jump forward a few months to a completely new group of characters and a seemingly unrelated missing person investigation. Although the connection to the previous narrative eventually becomes clear, I thought that the dénoument, such as it is, felt rather rushed and unresolved and I felt a little disappointed in the end of the book.

Despite this, Trackers is a gripping and intelligent read. Meyer seems to be setting us up for at least one sequel, and I will certainly look out for it. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like A Thriller Written By Raymond Carver, 24 Aug 2011
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
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Trackers is the first novel by Deon Meyer that I've read, so I can't compare it to any previous works. What I can say is that, structually, it has to be the most original thriller I've read in a long time. Its as if Meyer is channelling Raymond Carver, the author of Short Cuts, with the book's three separate yet interconnected novellas (one of which is separated into two parts by one of the other stories) and multiple recurring characters.

Some may find this structure unsatisfactory or off-putting. Personally I found it refreshing, although I wouldn't want every book to be similarly fragmented. It effectively allows Meyer to create a collection of short stories, a tricky form that the author handles well, but simultaneously craft them into a something approaching a cohesive full length novel.

As with many short story collections some entries are more successful than others. Personally I found the stories featuring Lemmer and Joubert more satisfying than the divided tale set around the PIA, although others might disagree. I never really connected with the PIA story or the motivations of the characters involved. The terrorist threat being investigated remained too insubstantial and convoluted to really have much impact and the actions of Milla and her decision to go on the run didn't stike me as logical or plausible.

The Lemmer and Joubert stories worked far better for me, even if one remained frustratingly yet enticeingly open ended. It could be that it Meyers familiarity with the both characters, who have apparently appeared in previous novels such as Blood Safari and Dead Before Dying (Coronet books), that makes theses two stories flow better but being new to the author's work I can't be certain. All I do know is that I want to know how Lemmer's pursuit of Flea goes and I'll be adding Blood Safari and some of Joubert's previous adventures to my 'to-be-read' list.

So overall this was a pleasantly enjoyable introduction to Deon Meyer and gave me a flavour of the sorts of stories the author writes. It will be interesting to see whether I get similar enjoyment out of his full length novels when I tackle one.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A medley of the good and the bad, 15 Aug 2011
By 
B. D. Breen (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
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`Trackers' is very much a book of four loosely linked sections, and as such reads more like a collection of novellas than one defined novel. Each section switches plot, narrator and literary style, and whilst this does make the book more varied, there are clearly areas the author excels at and some that they don't. The problem is that there are just as many bad devices caught up in the melee of styles as there are good.

The first section serves as an introduction to the incredibly large cast that appears in most of the book, particularly the third section. Most characters are interesting, but as is inevitable with such a mixed and sizeable cast the reader is left wanting more character development on a number of fronts - and less on others. Equally, less description of the internal structure of a terrorist organisation would be desired. Not because I'd rather not know, but because reams and reams of text are spent giving very little information that actually moves the plot onwards at all. This is definitely the weakest section of the book, and at some points when reading it I was thoroughly disenchanted with the whole thing. A pretty poor opening.

Next we switch narrators - and plots - to an altogether more thought-out and interesting concept. We are introduced to Lemmer, who is effectively a mercenary, hired unwittingly to be a part of a smuggling mission. Here the author adopts the first person viewpoint, and this is a device that really seems to work. Not only does the reader care about the main character, but the action scenes flow with great pace and character development is much more evenly spread. I would say this was the most entertaining section of the book, and certainly reenthused me for the rest of the read. It does make me wonder why we had to be subjected to the drudgery of the first eighty pages though. The story does tie in to some of the characters introduced in the first section of the book, but only very loosely. I would say it was more like reading a collection of stories a la John Grisham or Terry Pratchett with recurring characters but largely unlinked plots. I would much rather have stuck with this story arc for the whole novel, as it never really gets a satisfactory ending, just sort of a tacked on bit in the last few pages.

Meyer then shifts back to the primary plot of the book, and the third person narrative. But this time it is an altogether more focused effort. This is where we really get to know some characters, and are introduced to the tale of two people in love attempting to evade the law. There are obviously many complications, and a leading character in this section that is actually interesting to follow in her adventures (Milla). We still have the over peopled main plot developing here, which thankfully took a backseat in the second section. It's back with a vengeance, and the spies working on it are fairly uninteresting compared to most of the other characters, which is a shame as the actual bones of the plot are in no way flawed. The section ends with a somewhat unexpected twist, but then climaxes with a frankly ridiculous notion that requires a great suspension of disbelief. Once again we are left with matters unconcluded. Maybe they'll all come together in the fourth part? No.

In the fourth section of the book, we are introduced to a completely new, and thankfully much smaller, cast of characters. The reader follows around a former police officer now moved into the private sector, and the book is an interesting study in the differences between the two fields. However, the author does have a tendency to fall into the literary trap of making her character too nice; and so the reader is treated to the endless gesticulations of an unrealistic conscience. That said, the character is otherwise hugely likeable, the plot moves along at a good pace and does keep the reader guessing. The section finishes with a tacked-on resolution trying hopelessly to tie together every plot strand left throughout the sizeable tome. This never really happens, which is a shame as there are some genuinely amazing characters in the book.

In concluding, Deon Meyer has written a short novel collection and introduced it as a novel. This is not a major issue, save for the fact that some characters are incredibly bland to read (how can a spy network read like an accountant?) and one section of the book is a grossly misjudged introduction. Perhaps I am coming across overly harsh of the book. It is something I would recommend to a friend (just about) and I did enjoy my time with the book, it could just be so much better. And that's the real issue - this book had the potential to be a masterpiece, with the right changes. As it stands we have a better-then-average read that in all honesty only deserves 3 stars. And why the most entertaining character in the book only got one section is completely beyond me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars quite enjoyable but disappointing., 28 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Trackers (Kindle Edition)
This was my least favourite Dion Meyer book. He usually runs two or three themes at the same time and jumps from one to the other, tying them all together at the end.
In this book the various themes were too separated and rather than being fresh in ones memory were effectively finished and then left till the last couple of pages to link them together.
I found it very difficult to try and remember the various names and characters then.
Very disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Simply the Best of the Best", 30 Oct 2011
By 
Steele Curry (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Trackers (Hardcover)
Trackers clearly demonstrates that Meyer is the best of the best of today's mystery/thriller authors. This is a powerful novel with super characterization, compelling pacing and vivid settings.

Trackers contains a multi-dimensional cast of fascinating characters, many of whom have appeared in the author's prior six novels, that intersects through plot lines involving espionage, international terrorism, smuggling, criminal gangs and the workings of a private eye. A number of the individuals and groups featured in Trackers are engaged in the act of tracking different things that are important in their lives while having to content with the consequences of unforeseeable events. Throughout, it is obvious that the author is a fan of Nassin Nicholas Taleb's non-fiction book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

While Trackers is set in South Africa, there is a global or universal dimension to most of the novel. The first main character, Milla Strachan, flees an abusive husband and teenage son to try to regain control over her life. Milla takes a position at an unnamed government agency that turns out to be a department of the Presidential Intelligence Agency whose mission is to track a Muslin terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda. Milla later strikes out on her own with an international smuggler of artifacts.

The second main character, simply known as Lemmer, is hired to bodyguard a shipment of two black rhinos, being smuggled into South Africa from Zimbabwe for a wealthy Afrikaaner farmer. These "Hook Lip" rhinos are fast becoming extinct. Accompanying the rhinos is Flea van Jaarsveld, posing as a veterinarian, but actually a professional tracker with her own undisclosed agenda. In the middle of its 1,500 kilometer journey, the truck carrying the rhinos is intercepted by a Cape Town criminal gang looking for something hidden in the shipment.

The third main character, Mat Joubert, an ex-police superintendent, is newly hired by a private detective agency and assigned to find a missing husband. Joubert's case ends up being connected with the same criminal gang that held up the rhino shipment. Yes, Meyer makes sense of it all in the final chapters of Trackers.

With each new novel, Meyer's writing just gets stronger and more accomplished. He brings a keen, wide-angle perspective of the forces buffeting the world today to his plots plus a sensitive, deft understanding of personal relationships in his characterizations. In the process, the reader gains an appreciation of the past and current struggles besetting South Africa. When I finished reading Trackers, in a few days I wanted to read all 488 pages of the book again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A crime puzzle, 20 Oct 2011
By 
Amazon Customer "maria2222" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
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4 sections with 3 loosely inter-connected main stories make up this entertaining thriller.

Milla, an abused housewife, leaves husband and son in the pursuit of a better life. She gets a job with a government intelligence agency and sets out to "live a little" in her spare time. There are both internal and international power and political struggles to contend with for the main players at the agency which will eventually have a direct influence on Milla's life.

Section two deals with Lemmer - a bodyguard/mercenary who has only just recently experienced a bit of happiness with a new love and a place that can be considered home. He accepts a job to guard the transport of two rare rhinos, but soon discovers that there might be more at stake than simply saving the species and it seems that once again trouble has found him - and this time it might not go away.

In section three, we are back with Milla the Housewife and the government agency and they have happened upon what looks like a very serious piece of intelligence during their surveillance of "suspicious" gangs and religious groups. Milla, with her craving for excitement and happiness, suddenly finds herself involved to a much higher level than she bargained for when she has to take flight with a suspect.

Section four is again a seemingly completely different story with former police detective who has chosen to resign from the force to work as a private investigator. His first job is to find the missing husband of his client. A case that has everybody baffled as the man was in a happy relationship, didn't have any enemies and had a good job where he was well-respected and liked.
The stories are all good enough that they could have worked as individual novellas, but put together they become more interesting as we see how these on the surface random events tie together either in reality or as a result of "misread intelligence".

The setting is exciting and exotic; it's a different world and the translator has thread a fine balance and left enough Afrikaans in there for the reader not to forget this fact while it was easy enough to follow and didn't disturb the reading flow.

One criticism I have for first section is the sheer number of people introduced - both in the intelligence reports and at the agency. Friends and foes are difficult to distinguish and because many of them are only mentioned in passing, you do not care enough for them to remember the details. This breaks the flow and makes it a bit hard going, but as the main players are re-introduced in subsequent sections, the ease is back and it's just about enjoying the ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the first DM novel I've read, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
Wonderful writing. True the author assumes you can go along with things until they make sense - but that is how it should be (imo) spinning a yarn.

Engaging characters, nice neat unexpected touches. (I really liked it).
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5.0 out of 5 stars great spy story, 20 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
despite what others say I like the way the story jumps from one person to another and comes together at the end
Disappointed that the man doesn't get his gal!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wildly ambitious, generally successful, 25 Aug 2013
This review is from: Trackers (Paperback)
Among his many other virtues as a writer, Deon Meyer has become known for stunning plots that operate like precision machinery, and a level of formal experimentation that would be beyond many so-called "serious" novelists.
"Trackers" takes this to daring and virtuoso extremes. Essentially, the book consists of two short novels and a novella, involving some of the same characters, with linked plots, and a series of variations of almost Bach-like complexity on the theme of tracking.The latter includes everything from literal tracking of animals to the most recent electronic tracking of people and even of ideas. Just about every form of written and spoken communication is included as well, from SMSs and emails to diaries, photocopied journals,intercepted messages, bugged conversations and even a fictional treatment by one of the main characters of what is, after all, a fictional story.
It's dazzling,and if it doesn't entirely work, that's not surprising. There are some loose ends (unusually for Meyer) and some parts are more convincing than others. But I doubt if you'll read a more ambitious and effective piece of genre fiction this year, or probably until his next book.
A word of praise also for the translation, which manages to capture the authentic rhythms of South African speech in a way that is note-perfect.
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