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Heart of the Hunter: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A hulking black motorcycle-shop janitor named Tiny is the unlikely hero of this frantic, intelligent thriller by a South African crime writer. Tiny (aka Thobela Mpayipheli aka Umzingeli, the Hunter) is a former KGB-trained assassin who plied his trade in service of the struggle against apartheid. He is now a peace-loving family man, but when a plea for help comes from the daughter of an old friend, he is forced to race across the country on a motorcycle to deliver a coveted disk, chased by a homicidal special forces commander. His fear of revisiting the violence of his past feels real—the sincere hesitation of a dark-skinned man in a country where violent acts multiply like viruses, especially where black blood is involved. "His hands so terribly ready to kill, his brain clattering out the knowledge of the vital points on the soldier's body like machine gun fire, despairing, don't, don't, don't..." In other ways, this is a standard thriller complete with CIA involvement, an appearance by Muslim extremists and a loose, rat-a-tat prose that keeps pages turning. The central plot twist is predictable and too few of the many story lines are resolved, but the freshness of the context and the emotional complexity of the hero's journey are ample compensation for readers who want a more thought-provoking spy story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Thobela Mpayipheli has settled into a sedate but rewarding life with the woman he loves. He works as a gofer at a South African motorcycle shop and readies his partner's young son for life on a farm--until an ex-boss asks him to perform a dangerous favor. His Xhosa warrior's heart racing, Thobela soon finds himself driving hard toward Nigeria with a hard drive full of secrets the unified government wishes to file away for good. Thrillingly competent at evading the police, intelligence services, and even a crack paramilitary team, Thobela struggles with the novel's core question--Can people change their essential nature?--while the authorities uncover his deadly past as a weapon of the antiapartheid movement on loan to the Soviet bloc. Like John le Carre's The Tailor of Panama, this novel examines the rippling horrors too often caused by so-called intelligence agents working for foreign masters in backwater nations. With simmering racial tensions, a bounty of natural resources, and a government whose members worked both sides of the cold-war fence, South Africa should prove fertile ground for many fine spy thrillers to come. Don't be surprised if quite a few of them are written by Meyer. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316010391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316010399
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,501,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sebastian Fernandez VINE VOICE on December 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Thobela Mpayipheli is an African giant, ex-spy, who is now living with his fiancé and her son in a small town in South Africa, called Guguletu. He has vowed never to go back to his old life, but his peaceful existence is broken when Monica Kleintjes, the daughter of one of his dear friends from the past, asks for his help. Johnny Kleintjes has been kidnapped and will only be released upon the delivery of a disk containing information that is crucial to national security. Kleintjes gathered this information when working in an integration project in an effort to document the real history relating to the events that took place in the dark era of the Apartheid.

Thobela, or Tiny as his friends call him, is a mysterious man that shows great kindness at moments, and cold-blooded violence at others. In a world when everyone wants to see things white or black, he presents a solid gray. This can be clearly appreciated by the reaction of the people as he goes on his quest, mounted on a powerful motorbike. Some see him as a hero, while others regard him as a dangerous man who cannot be good because he used to work as a "collector" for a drug baron. There is one reporter for the Cape Times, Allison Healy, who tries to answer the question: Is Tiny good or bad? This will provide us with valuable insight regarding the main character, but: can the question be answered with certainty?

One would thing that helping a friend that has been kidnapped would be hard enough, but Thobela has other problems too. Janina Metz, a high ranked officer in one of the intelligence agencies, had a wire that allowed her to listen to the conversation between the kidnappers and Monica. Therefore, she activated a special forces group led by a violent and vicious captain named Mazibuko.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Thobela Mpayipheli is on an epic motorcycle ride from South Africa to Zambia. He's on a mission to save the life of a friend by delivering a sensitive data file to his captors.

His code name in the CIA was Umzingeli (The Hunter). His ironical nickname in the underground is Tiny. In fact, he's a larger-than-life black man, a prince of the Xhosa tribe, a veteran of the Struggle - and a warrior so lethal that when a drug baron hears that Intelligence is going after Tiny, he advises them, "Start ordering the body bags now."

Tiny is perhaps my favorite superhero in the world of thrillers. He's an ex-assassin who has given up violence, a wonderful family man, a tender lover, a loyal friend - a good man with a dark past and sweet visions of the future. Will he fall victim to post-Apartheid politics? Or will he survive the roadblocks, the helicopter surveillance, and the vicious attacks from the country's elite Presidential Intelligence unit? I was on the edge of my armchair waiting to find out.

Not only are Tiny's adventures completely riveting. There are a variety of absorbing subplots throughout. There's a shocking spy story. And a charming romantic interest between a Rubenesque female journalist and a close friend of Tiny's - an ex-cop turned psychology professor. Intellectual readers should enjoy mulling over the professor's theories of evolutionary psychology. Action-loving readers can enjoy the professor's prowess under attack.

Deon Meyer's books are a feast of complex characters, great fight scenes, pure love, dirty politics, and glorious African landscapes. Heart of the Hunter is a particularly wonderful example of his work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a unique novel, from a very skilled author. I have read 3 of his other books and they are all very good. This is not written like books for the typical American audience, there is nuance and a pace that develops over time and you need to give this author enough story line to develop the plot and theme. This is not a superficial "mission impossible/James Bond" type of story, it is a thriller about a real man with real challenges and a life story that is compelling. The context of South Africa is hard to imagine, with the urban technology and then the wide open veld as well. I like how he switched between antagonist and protagonist and for a long time I was not so sure which was which... thus it is an intriguing and engaging story- well told, interesting and superbly thought out and crafted. I lust for more from him and will read his other books.
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Format: Hardcover
Deon Meyer's American debut novel, HEART OF THE HUNTER, is a first-rate thriller, worthy to be on a bestseller list. Not only does Meyer write a fast-moving story, he also acquaints his readers with the landscape of South Africa. He writes suspense that moves quickly and delves deep into the heart of his characters. They jump from the page and involve his reader with immediacy. Meyer invokes sympathy for minor characters as well as his protagonist, Tiny Mpayipheli.

Tiny is a six-foot three strongman, retired from a life of killing for hire to that of a mechanic in a motorcycle shop in a small town. He lives with the woman who changes his life, Miriam Nzululwazi, and her son, Pakamile. All three are drawn into a spider web of life changes that none can control. Tiny's former life seeks him in the form of an old friend, held captive by persons unknown, who is desperate and contacts the quiet giant.

In 1984, the complicated government of a South Africa that has emerged from its struggle for independence is the undercurrent for Meyer's plot. Distrust among competing agencies leads to players with ambition seeking their own dynasties within government departments. Prime among these is Janina Mentz, officer in charge of the Ops Room's special unit of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Her agency intercepts a phone call from Tiny's friend, Johnny Kleintjes, to his daughter and rolls into action. Mentz's mission is to stop Tiny from delivering a disk, believed to contain sensitive government information. Mentz calls on the diabolical Tiger Mazibuko, a marine officer with no scruples, for help in the Ops mission.
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