One Shot review by Margaret von Klemperer, The Witness

One Shot review by Margaret von Klemperer, The Witness

Although based in South Africa, Amanda Coetzee has not set her novels featuring traveller turned detective Harry “Badger” O’Connor here. So it is interesting that this time the book, the fourth in the series, has a strong South African component.

But, as usual, it all begins in Bedford in the United Kingdom. Badger is still perpetually angry and brooding (sometimes to an irritating degree) but in his private life, things seem to be looking up. However, a drug war erupts on his turf and the body count begins to escalate, leading him to make a decision he is going to regret for the rest of his days.

As his personal life turns to a living hell, Badger realises he is up against a particularly nasty killer, Tom Grey, who is a former military sniper who has gone rogue.

Tom also works, when needed, for a shadowy security company, and it is this that sends him to South Africa, to Johannesburg’s mean streets and to the diamond fields. And Badger comes in his wake. The opening chapters of the novel are curiously hard to follow and I found myself retracing my steps several times to work out who was who and what was happening. But as Coetzee gets into her stride, the pace picks up and One Shot becomes a slick and fast-moving read. I doubt if the South African Police will be hiring Coetzee as a publicist any time soon — they get a tough working over — 

but there are hints that Badger might be running into them again in the future.

The denouement is vicious and breathless, and the reader can’t help but root for Badger, even though I really do wish he would lighten up a bit. Dark and gloomy does begin to pall.

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