Cobra Author : Deon Meyer
Country : South Africa

Set mainly in Cape Town, the novel follows the interlinked paths of a pickpocket, a Cambridge University professor, an international assassin and a detective in the South African Police Service.

Hodder & Stoughton 2014. Cobra is the most recent of Meyer’s novels and once again follows the investigations of police detective Benny Griessel. Initially called in to investigate a fatal shooting at a wine farm, the police soon discover that the dead men had been guarding a now missing Englishman. The missing man turns out to have developed an algorithm capable of detecting suspicious bank transfers around the globe. A Cape Town pickpocket specialising in relieving tourists of their wallets unwittingly steals the algorithm as it is about to be handed over to the Englishman’s kidnappers.

Meyer uses the plot – which, as is habitual in his writing, moves along at a very fast pace – to continue his examination of the South African Police Service through the figure of Benny Griessel. In a way, the SAPS is itself a microcosm of South African society with its policies of promoting black African officers over their white or coloured counterparts, and for Griessel, who is an Arikaaner, this is an important issue. Meyer’s novels have gradually become darker over the years, suggesting a degree over disappointment at the way the country has evolved since 1994 when Apartheid came to an end. There is recognition of corruption at the highest levels of government while, as if to compensate, Benny Griessel becomes increasingly uncomfortable with his own past as a pre-democracy police officer.

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