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Wake Up Dead: A Cape Town Thriller [Kindle Edition]

Roger Smith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $20.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

An amphetamine-fueled thriller about a bombshell American widow on the run in Cape Town's violent badlands--from a writer being compared to George Pelecanos and Richard Price

A split-second decision with no second chance: get it wrong and you wake up dead.

On a blowtorch-hot night in Cape Town, American ex-model Roxy Palmer and her gunrunner husband, Joe, are carjacked, leaving Joe lying in a pool of blood. As the carjackers make their getaway, Roxy makes a fateful choice that changes her life forever.

Disco and Godwynn, the ghetto gangbangers who sped away in Joe's convertible, will stop at nothing to track her down. Billy Afrika, a mixed-race ex-cop turned mercenary, won't let her out of his sight because Joe owed him a chunk of money. And remorselessly hunting them all is Piper, a love-crazed psychopath determined to renew his vows with his jailhouse "wife," Disco.

As these desperate lives collide and old debts are settled in blood, Roxy is caught in a wave of escalating violence in the beautiful and brutal African seaport. With savage plotting and breakneck suspense that ends in a shattering cataclysm of violence, Wake Up Dead confirms Roger Smith as one of the world's best new thriller writers.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At the start of this stellar thriller from South African author Smith (Mixed Blood), Cape Town meth heads Godwynn MacIntosh and Disco De Lilly hijack wheeler-dealer Joe Palmer's Mercedes. When the two black men shoot Joe in the leg, the reaction of Joe's gold-digging American wife, a former model, is to say the least, unexpected. While honest cop Ernie Maggott tracks the carjackers, and sociopathic killer Piper pursues Disco, once his jailhouse wife, half-white Billy Afrika, a former police detective and now a mercenary to whom Joe owed a ton of cash, is bent on revenge for Piper's savage two decades-old murder of Billy's mentor. Bad choices, not bad luck, drive human depravity in this brutal fable, where the human ideals of beauty and goodness and truth can't save their possessors and even fatally attract the soulless. One fundamental irony unforgettably lingers: that these characters, trapped in poverty, ignorance, and prejudice, have really had no choice at all. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In outline, this pinballing ensemble tale of a mercenary, an ex-model, an ex-con, an arms dealer, a cop, a kid, a revolutionary, a prostitute, assorted gangsters, and a suitcase full of cash isn’t all that different from other entries in the crime subgenre birthed by Elmore Leonard. What sets this one apart is its setting—sunbaked, blood-soaked Cape Town—and its relentless intensity. Billy Afrika, back from Iraq, just wants the money he is owed for getting shot at. Unfortunately, the security broker who hired him just got carjacked. In his ensuing scramble for compensation, Billy must confront, in addition to the motley crew listed above, the physical and psychic scars of growing up in poverty-stricken Cape Flats. Smith (Mixed Blood, 2009) keeps the pacing brisk and the introspection brief in this gory tour, which surely won’t be on the recommended-reading list of the Cape Town tourism board. But his bullet points—which include racial tension, gang warfare, prison life, and witchcraft, with a nod to cannibalism—will make this thriller a prime destination for readers who like to detour from crime-fiction’s beaten path. --Keir Graff

Product Details

  • File Size: 602 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312680481
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003H4I5BW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,455 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This guy is VERY good... April 24, 2010
This book flat out kicks a**! I think the most amazing aspect of Smith's writing style is how he allows you to see the characters in a certain manner for a few chapters and then he puts you into their heads and turns your impression of them completely upside down. The characters all have their own story to tell and Smith tells them all with a style that keeps you hungering for more of their narrative. Smith is one of those writers that switch narrators and when he leaves one perspective you feel angry because you are into that character's point of view, but then you start the next chapter and think "Oh...I couldn't wait to see what this character was up to". Smith is one of the newer hard-boiled noir authors along with Millar, Zeltserman, Flexer and Chaney that is giving the genre new life. Smith has already established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the noir field and his writing seems to have gotten even better in his second book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Crime Thriller February 13, 2010
I don't know the etiquette about reviewing on amazon a book that you blurbed, but man, I love this book and its great compulsory vibe. With its large cast of characters that violently collide throughout the course of Wake Up Dead, this book reads a bit like very violent Elmore Leonard. Roxy Palmer is looking to escape a bad marriage and bad situation (as well as bad life decisions), soldier-for-hire Billy Afrika is looking for payment and redemption, a cold-blooded killer and gangbanger Piper is looking for his true love---and how these 3 lives are going to intersect in Cape Town, South Africa leads to one of the best crime thrillers to come around in years. Right now I don't think anyone is writing better crime thrillers than Roger Smith.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Graphic Thriller February 18, 2010
After a carjacking in Cape Town leaves Roxy Palmer's gunrunner husband dead, she must stay out of the sights of the carjacking gang members, Disco and Godwynn, two of the many dark and disturbing characters, an ex-cop turned mercenary, Billy Afrika; and Piper, a psychopath bent on renewing his vows with his jailhouse "wife," Disco.
Roger Smith definitely paints a dark image over Cape Town, especially the Cape Flats area. Dont' expect any heroes in this latest thriller. What you get is a dark and unsettling thriller that will make your stomach curl. The atmosphere the author creates is real and palpable. A crime thriller that will surround you with its bleakness. Don't expect a happy ending in the old fashion sense but more in an authentic sense.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood, Death, Revenge and Redemption in Cape Town February 2, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I owe my interest in South African crime writers to Roger Smith. I was hooked with Mixed Blood: A Thriller and Wake Up Dead set the hook. Like Roger's first novel, Wake Up Dead is a fast paced, very violent, crime thriller set in Cape Town, South Africa, mostly in the Cape Flats area. Thrillers can be disposable entertainment but Smith's books combine three criteria that make a book last for me: story, characters, and location and Smith takes these up a level in Wake Up Dead. He doesn't sacrifice character for story instead he populates the book with well developed, interesting people that include common variety street thugs and ex-cons, a scary psychopath in love, a former model from the U.S named Roxy, and an ex-cop/ex-mercenary product of the Flats with the great name of Billy Afrika. Billy is back in town to get what is owed (legitimately) to him and Roxy is the means to that end. He is a little better than the forces he is up against but he has a depth that makes him intriguing. Smith keeps several plot threads working and the body count mounting as he brings everyone together for a satisfying ending. The location of the story is very important. The vivid descriptions of the Cape Flats area of Cape Town brought me forcefully into the story. The Flats were apartheid's dumping grounds, where the government forced non-whites to live. It is also home to gangs and drug trade. Think of the Baltimore of the HBO show, The Wire, only much more dangerous. Wake Up Dead does have scenes of brutal physical violence but the violence is a reflection of the environment and not there for its own sake. Before you start reading Wake Up Dead, take a look at this item that plays a large part in the story Cold Steel Kudu Lock Folder Knife. It will make the story even more vivid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A violent noir but superb thriller March 9, 2010
Roger Smith's second novel (the first was the excellent Mixed Blood) is set once again in Cape Town, South Africa. It starts with an act of violence and never lets up on the violent theme. Yet it is a book that you will read quickly and remember.
He creates an array of characters to include an gorgeous blond American model, her corrupt husband, an ex-cop turned mercenary who is returning to his home in South Africa, two evil gang leaders, one who is in jail and one who is on the violent streets of Cape Town and both who are maintaining their vicious acts from their own location (Why does the prison gang leader want to escape and then be captured again? Read and be shocked.) various drug addicted punks, a corrupt cop, a widow of an ex-officer and many other key characters. It is a story of multiple reasons for these leads to seek revenge against each other. If you read Robert Crais this is his level of brutality times 10. Who survives and who doesn't forces the reader to turn pages slowly and be shocked at what happens.
The first 25 pages introduce these many characters in dazzling and sometimes confusing fashion. Then Smith provides magnificent background as to their history and motivations for their individual beliefs and desires. So be patient and your patience will be rewarded quickly as you gain vivid knowledge of the people.
Smith subtitles this book as "A Thriller" and that is a perfect description.
Be forewarned, this is one bloody and often horrifying story. The deeds and methods of killing committed by various people in this book are described in thorough and often cringe inducing fashion. If you find revulsion in reading about brutal murder, this book may not be for you. However if you want a book that shows the dark side of South Africa today and creates superb drama, then don't miss this one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Gripping, horrifying
Published 7 months ago by Richard
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story - keeps you wanting to turn the pages ...
Good story - keeps you wanting to turn the pages to see what is coming next - very violent though!
Published 10 months ago by Brian McLintock
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Far too violent for me but a racing read.
Published 10 months ago by Susi Koch
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!!
Roger Smith simply cannot write a bad novel!!! I am completely hooked on everything he writes. The plot lines are just amazing and so exciting that really, the book ( as all of his... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it
I am a huge Roger Smith fan and in this novel he yet again has me reading the novel from cover to cover in one sitting
Published 16 months ago by Leonie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. Kept me going.
Another great Roger Smith book about the other side of life in South Africa.Couldn't put it down. Great mystery thriller.
Published on May 19, 2013 by Meredith M. Chase
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Damaged Delight
WAKE UP DEAD is another Cape Town Thriller from Roger Smith. He is knocking on the door of my top ten favorite authors because each read has been consistently excellent. Read more
Published on May 5, 2013 by M. ONEILL
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up Dead
I have come to enjoy all of Roger Smith Books. The big thing is, I never know where it is going. Just when I think I have it figured out, it changes. Read more
Published on March 26, 2013 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and Great
You don't read any Roger Smith book to make your life feel better! They are as tough as they come and paint an unrelenting bleak outlook on life through the eyes of the local... Read more
Published on March 20, 2013 by Kotuku
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Roger Smith
Roger Smith is addicting! The world he has created captures me and won't let go, even during the most violent episodes! Highly recommend to anyone, although faint of heart beware.
Published on December 29, 2012 by T. A. Nunnally
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More About the Author

"Roger Smith writes with the brutal beauty of an Elmore Leonard in a very bad mood." THE WASHINGTON POST

Roger Smith's thrillers MAN DOWN, SACRIFICES, CAPTURE, DUST DEVILS, WAKE UP DEAD, MIXED BLOOD & ISHMAEL TOFFEE are published in eight languages and two are in development as movies in the U.S.

His books have won the GERMAN CRIME FICTION AWARD and been nominated for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE BEST NOVEL awards. He also writes horror under the pen name Max Wilde.


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