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Let the Dead Lie: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, April 20, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With this gripping sequel set in South Africa in 1953, Nunn, who is also a screenwriter, proves that her impressive debut novel, A Beautiful Place to Die, was no fluke. A former police detective sergeant, Emmanuel Cooper is now working undercover on the docks of Durban Harbor to document police corruption for his old boss, Major van Niekerk. When Emmanuel comes across the body of a white slum kid, who ran errands in the port area, with his throat slit, he observes that the notebook the 11-year-old boy used to record orders is missing. The authorities regard Emmanuel as the prime suspect in this crime as well as in the subsequent murders of a landlady and her black maid, whose throats are also cut. Van Niekerk manages to get Emmanuel out of jail, but with a strict two-day deadline to find the real killer. Nunn deftly balances suspense and deduction as she offers a revealing glimpse into South African society under the segregation laws promulgated by the ruling National Party. (Apr.)
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About the Author

Malla Nunn was born in Swaziland, South Africa, and currently lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a filmmaker with three award-winning films to her credit and is currently at work on her second novel.  

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Original edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416586229
  • ASIN: B004J8HXAE
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,781,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Rogers on April 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
By now you've probably heard of Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It's a fast-paced thriller set in Sweden, the first in a trilogy of books featuring Lisbeth Sanders, a quirky investigator/computer hacker and the "Girl" in the title. In this particular story, she teams up with Mikhail Blomkvist, a once-respected journalist who has fallen on hard times, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young girl forty years ago. I could hardly put it down.

So I was thrilled to receive an email from my friends at Simon & Schuster recently that read, "If you love Steig Larsson's Mikael Blomkvist you will certainly fall in love with Malla Nunn's enigmatic Emmanuel Cooper." They were referring to the main character in Nunn's second novel, Let the Dead Lie, and I was sold. I requested an advance review copy and devoured it.

This book is actually a sequel to Nunn's debut novel, A Beautiful Place to Die (now also on my reading list). Both stories feature Emmanuel Cooper, a former soldier and police detective sergeant who is indeed as crafty and tough as Larsson's Blomkvist. And like Blomkvist, the actions of his past haunt his present.

Let the Dead Lie is set in 1950s South Africa, specifically, in the port town of Durban - a melting pot of Indians, Afrikaners, Zulus, English, Russians, Jews, and Greeks - that at this point in history is still subject to the racial separation system of apartheid. The area of focus is the Victory Shipyards, which turn into a hotbed of violence, prostitution, and thievery at night.

Cooper is now working undercover on the docks of Durban Harbor to document police corruption, when he stumbles upon the slain body of an 11-year-old English slum kid that ran errands in the shipyard.
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Second in the Emmanuel Cooper series, LET THE DEAD LIE opens in 1953 in Durban, South Africa after a brief prologue in set in 1945 Paris which casts a framework defining Cooper's career and determined search for justice. The National Party's apartheid laws are in effect. The port town of Durban with its diverse racial groups and tribes does not easily fit into a black and white view of race. After his case in the first book, A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO DIE, now former detective and ex-soldier Emmanuel Cooper, does surveillance work of corrupt policemen on the seedy docks of Durban, a place frequented by prostitutes, thieves and other low life activities. When Cooper discovers the dead body of a young errand boy, he cannot let the crime go. As he becomes a suspect in the crime, Cooper races against the clock to solve the murder. Several complications and interwoven connections expose several layers of corruption and danger.

In LET THE DEAD LIE, Malla Nunn, Swaziland born filmmaker and author, creates a murder mystery rich in detail that takes the reader to the heart 1950s South African culture. Every gesture or word between characters carries with it the social construct of apartheid. As in her first novel, Malla Nunn instills a keen sense of place and history into the mystery. Against this rich background, LET THE DEAD LIE creates complex characters in which various types of corruption, overt and those hidden beneath surface appearances come into play. Cooper's investigation takes the reader beyond the stereotypes created by apartheid, while exposing the unintended consequences of the apartheid laws.
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Format: Paperback
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first novel by the same author, I was looking forward to this one, and I wasn't disappointed. As a matter of fact, this one was easier to read because I had already learned so much about the race classifications for this era in South Africa from the first novel. The main character, Emmanuel, is wonderful, and such a good guy that it is easy to get caught up in the solving of the mystery. The plot takes so many twists and turns that it isn't possible to guess the outcome, even though it makes perfect sense. I love that the ending alluded to another novel to come, where we may learn more of the background on Emmanuel, who is still surrounded by much mystery himself.
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Format: Paperback
This suspenseful novel from award-winning author Malla Nunn is taut and tightly paced. Set in 1953 in South Africa, a country that surrounds Nunn's country of birth, Swaziland, the detective novel masterfully blends all elements that are required in such a text. Whether it is read as a sequel to Nunn's impressive debut novel, A Beautiful Place to Die, or by itself matters little, but that it is most definitely worth reading by anyone interested in the detective genre is a cert.

The action in Let the Dead Lie centers around the deductive work of a former detective sergeant, Emmanuel Cooper. Emmanuel was earlier forced to buy his release from the police force on pain of otherwise being dishonorably discharged for an action that, under a more just system than the reigning apartheid regime, would not have been necessary. Within 48 hours, Emmanuel has to solve a crime without the backup of the resources that would have been available to him as a matter of course if he had been part of the conventional police force. Not only does Emmanuel have to cope with the thugs and criminals that formed part of the underworld of the time, but he also finds himself up against those who would, prior to his disgrace, have been his colleagues. With the threat of a jail sentence hanging over his head if he does not solve the crime, involving the murder of a young white boy, which rapidly escalates into the murder of three victims, in time, Emmanuel has no time to waste. Each page is more gripping than the first, as Emmanuel's deadline looms ever closer.

In addition to those striving to outwit or outrun him, Emmanuel also has his own inner demons with which to contend.
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