Review

Heart of the Hunter

by Deon Meyer



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.

Tiny's skills as a former assassin and KGB operative come into play
when he sets forth on a stolen BMW motorcycle across the Cape
country to deliver the tape and rescue his old friend. Adrenalin
long suppressed by his present pastoral life bursts into activity
when he leads his pursuers across the South African veld on a chase
for survival. Meyer's description of the terrain makes his audience
a part of the story, cheering for Tiny's success and the return to
his new life. But we want to witness the strength and skill he
possesses as part of the old. We're not disappointed.

HEART OF THE HUNTER is a wealth of information about South Africa's
struggle, disparity within her infant government and identity
crises in both public and private sectors. Meyer's capable
scripting weaves images with identity and blends the two with
incredible skill. Chapter breaks blend portions of the story into a
continuous thread that connects the characters through common word
bonds. For example, Tiny waits for the subject of his first
assassination. "The door, dark wood, was shut again…This was
not the way to wage war...not right." A section break follows.
Then, "There was a bar on the door, white letters on a green
background that read PUSH/DRUK, and Miriam obeyed...She realized
she was in a dead end."

HEART OF THE HUNTER should be in strong demand in the American
market. We'll look for more from this outstanding author.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 22, 2011

Heart of the Hunter
by Deon Meyer

  • Publication Date: July 12, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316935492
  • ISBN-13: 9780316935494