This review appeared in Austrian newspaper Die Presse in January 2016.
Charlotte Otter dispatches journalist Maggie Cloete on her second case in “Karkloof Blue”, in the process mapping out an image of today’s South African society. Maggie Cloete is perhaps a little too cool, too tough, too perfect. She knows karate and beats up brawny men. She prefers to ride a motorbike rather than drive a car, and likes beer. And above all: her instinct never lets her down, self-doubt is quite simply never an issue.
Author Charlotte Otter has dispensed with all weaknesses when making investigative reporter Maggie Cloete the heroine of her crime novel series. “Karkloof Blue” sees the journalist tackling her second case. As in Charlotte Otter’s debut novel “Balthasar’s Gift”, this political crime novel plays out in post-Apartheid South Africa, once again highlighting unresolved issues from the country’s dark past, and controversial topics from today. The particular focus this time: environmental protection.
The novel is named after a butterfly, the “Karkloof Blue” (Latin name: Orachrysops ariadne). The endangered butterfly lives in an area of virgin forest near Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal province. The unfortunate circumstances arise as the company Sentinel plan to deforest the area to plant pine monocultures intended for paper production. Environmental conservationists intend to prevent this.
When the corpse is found of David Bloom, a Sentinel employee, Maggie’s research leads her not only to the criminal practices of large companies, but also to the brutal murders of the Apartheid regime against its detractors. A breathtaking journey into the South Africa of yesterday and today.
Translation by the fabulous Louisa, as always.