Stephen Coan
1 minute read
2 Oct 2008
08:05

A jigsaw plot of a thriller

Stephen Coan

STEPHEN COAN reviews In the Evil Day by Peter Temple. Quercus.

Peter Temple is an Australian thriller writer whose books are now being introduced to a wider world by Quercus. This one is of particular interest to our local market as a core plotline involves SADF activities in Angola, plus one of the main characters is a South African mercenary, Con Niemand.

Temple’s jigsaw of a plot kicks off with Niemand being the sole survivor of a hit on a Johannesburg house. He uses the opportunity to make off with a briefcase containing a video depicting an atrocity somewhere in Africa. He heads for London, contacts a journalist, Caroline Wishart, and attempts to sell her the tape. The next minute people are out to kill him and they just keep on coming.

Meanwhile in Hamburg John Anselm, an ex-journalist still dealing with the trauma of being kidnapped in Beirut, and now working for a surveillance business, gets called in to help track down Niemand. Consequently all three characters are soon heading towards each other on a collision course.

It’s all swiftly and efficiently handled in staccato prose, although some of the earlier sections seem unnecessarily opaque, only making sense in hindsight. While not convinced Temple is the talent trumpeted on the book’s cover, In the Evil Day is good enough to make you think Temple writing on his home turf might be worth a try.