Thirteen hours, followed by At close quarters

Fuentes 13hours Having written a post yesterday about the crime fiction accent of this blog, I now feel duty-bound to write a follow up post, demonstrating my new colours. However, a long and demanding day at work has somewhat taken the wind out of my sails, so I will just write a short post about what I've just read and what I am reading now.

I have just finished a fantastic novel, Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer, translated from the Afrikaans by K. L. Seegers. "With Deon Meyer you can't go wrong" writes Michael Connelly, and I'm not disagreeing. Thirteen Hours will be published in the UK next month, and I'll be submitting my review to Euro Crime in due course. The novel is an exciting combination of chase thriller and separate murder investigation in Cape Town, by veteran police detective Benny Griessel. Although the police force is populated by "new South Africans" (ie young and not very experienced), about half way through the book events get so heated that Benny enlists the help of a colleague from the old days (whom regular readers will recognise). Meyer writes:

Vusi jogged away and Griessel hung his head while Mat patiently stood and watched him. For a long time. In silence, so that the tick tock of the grandfather clock in the study could be heard. The two of them were dinosaurs of the SAPS, he thought, an endangered, dying breed. Political global warming had taken their toll long ago, but here they were still, two old carnivores in the jungle, limbs stiff, teeth blunt, but still not completely ineffective.

Beautiful stuff. Upon finishing this book, I turned to another novel that is eligible for the International Dagger this year, At Close Quarters by Eugenio Fuentes, translated from the Spanish by Martin Schifino. "Old fashioned, character-led whodunnits uncovering the dark side of secret Spain" is the blurb quote from the Observer newspaper. Fuentes is an author new to me, but upon reading the opening paragraph, I am entranced:

One morning as he was shaving, he heard children's voices on the other side of the fence outside his house. It was an unusual sound at that hour – ten past nine in the morning – in a quiet residential neighbourhood with wide streets, far from the city centre. He turned off the tap in order to hear better, and in the increasingly loud buzz he heard some adult voices. Razor in hand, his face still lathered with shaving foam, he walked over to the study and, unseen in the semi-darkness of the room, he observed, with surprise and curiosity, the group of children loitering on the broad pavement accompanied by their parents. The kids were all wearing the blue school uniform of the Marian Catholic School he himself had worn as a child. He'd just heard on the radio it was the beginning of term, and seven million Spanish children were returning to school after the summer holidays.

Immediately hooked, I am reading on with deepening enjoyment.