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Present Darkness: A Novel (Emmanuel Cooper Mysteries) Paperback – June 3, 2014
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Frequently Bought Together
Unforgettable.” (The Sydney Morning Herald)
“Historical hindsight may make readers a bit more self-congratulatory about recognizing the evils of apartheid, but it won’t help them see around the curves Nunn has plotted or rise above her insight into the enduring dilemmas of her separate-and-unequal world.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A disturbing book with a morally compelling hero.”—Booklist
“An engrossing and compelling read . . . saturated with the feel of 1950s South Africa.” —Mike Nicol, author of the Revenge trilogy
“The suspense is irresistible, and the mystery sustains itself well. This is a wonderfully effective addition to Nunn’s already masterful series of novels. A highly recommended novel.”— Historical Novel Society
"Superlative." (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“This well-plottedbook is like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces fit together with a terribleprecision, and yet can be read with hope that the good guys will prevail. (Itis a series, after all.) Recommended for anyone who loves a good mystery with acomplicated, tough protagonist worth falling for." (Historical Novel Society)
“Malla Nunn’s bookshave it all: fast-paced, intricate storylines; an exotic setting in a dangerousera; a deeply flawed hero; and an Oscar-worthy cast of supporting characters.” (Bookpage)
“We're fortunate indeed that writers like Malla Nunn are here, working on books like PRESENT DARKNESS. This is crime fiction that goes into an area of human behaviour and a history that needs to be held up to the light, remembered, examined and understood.” (Reviewing the Evidence)
Top Customer Reviews
The setting is incredibly important to these novels. Apartheid legislation started in 1948. It segregated people - white, black, mixed race, Indian - as well as services. It also made sexual relations and marriage between people of different races illegal. Cooper, a detective sergeant, grew up in a mixed-race slum, growing up as a "white kaffir." In the present, he seeks to hide his sympathies even as he helps find justice for those the law would ignore. It's becoming harder, especially since he has to hide all details of his private life. His girlfriend is mixed race and they have a daughter together.
PRESENT DARKNESS starts with two separate crimes. A prostitute is kidnapped. A white couple is critically beaten, and their daughter names two black men as the attackers. The first crime takes a long time to tie into the story, although the updates on the girl's situation are quite harrowing and make one hope that she'll somehow escape a grisly fate. The second seems like an open and shut case. However, one of the men she names is the son of Cooper's good friend Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala. Cooper realizes that the crime is too neat and investigates on his own.
The mystery weaves together slowly, taking several unpredictable turns, complicated at every step by the inescapable racial politics. Malla Nunn's hero might be impossibly progressive, but he does have his dark side, and as the case gets more personal it brings out his violence.Read more ›
One of the great strengths of the books is the way that the world that Cooper and his compatriots occupy has been expanding. This is a series that could be read out of sequence but will work much better if you can follow them in order. The progression steers the reader through the stark and quite mind-boggling viciousness of the apartheid regime. The way that the colour of your skin affects absolutely every aspect of your life. Including, most poignantly in PRESENT DARKNESS, who you love, and the children that you cherish.
The central device of the plot - the assault of a respectable, white couple, laid squarely on the shoulders of black youth, with very little in the way of investigation, and some decidedly dodgy behaviour from local police - works well, and sadly feels all too real. That tension between the races, the difference in living standards - the white neighbourhood of the assault, versus the township of Cooper's youth are described wonderfully - not in too many words, but in the reactions of the characters, the complications of adjustment. The corruption of the authorities, and the powerlessness imposed by Apartheid are laid out elegantly, spread through the story with a deft touch, making the whole situation more profoundly moving than a lecture ever could.Read more ›
I enjoy her writing and the descriptive content of South Africa through these early pre and into apartheid eras and Ms Nunn has a great ability to develop the reader's empathy with the underlying shocking injustices visited on South Africa during this period.
I will always read books she writes and I look forward to her next.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Maybe not quite up to Nunn's usual writing but still a very good read. I agree with other reviewers that there is an overload of coincidences. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jandsarah
Malla Nunn grew up in Swaziland and is very knowledgeable about the ugly political realities of neighbouring South Africa in the 1950s, the place and time she has chosen as the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by keetmom
Malla is an excellent writer. The Emmanuel Cooper novels are written during apartheid in South Africa. Read morePublished 6 months ago by S Hanson
Exciting. So captivating an author I cannot put Malla Nunn's books down. I lived in South Africa in the early 1960's and every sound and smell she writes in her books take me back... Read morePublished 8 months ago by roselyn mitchell
A continuation of the Emmanuel Cooper books. Good, but I enjoyed the previous ones a bit more.Published 14 months ago by Cornelia Henderson
I loved the previous Detective Cooper books, but this one wasn't as good. There were too many coincidences, in the city and in the countryside. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mystic by the Lake
Johannesburg in 1953 was full of corruption on all levels – the division between the whites and non-whites was as wide as it had ever been. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Brenda Telford