A Beautiful Place to Die

A Beautiful Place to Die

A Novel

Book - 2009
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Award-winning screenwriter Malla Nunn delivers a stunning and darkly romantic crime novel set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper -- a man caught up in a time and place where racial tensions and the raw hunger for power make life very dangerous indeed.In a morally complex tale rich with authenticity, Nunn takes readers to Jacob's Rest, a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique. It is 1952, and new apartheid laws have recently gone into effect, dividing a nation into black and white while supposedly healing the political rifts between the Afrikaners and the English. Tensions simmer as the fault line between the oppressed and the oppressors cuts deeper, but it's not until an Afrikaner police officer is found dead that emotions more dangerous than anyone thought possible boil to the surface.When Detective Emmanuel Cooper, an Englishman, begins investigating the murder, his mission is preempted by the powerful police Security Branch, who are dedicated to their campaign to flush out black communist radicals. But Detective Cooper isn't interested in political expediency and has never been one for making friends. He may be modest, but he radiates intelligence and certainly won't be getting on his knees before those in power. Instead, he strikes out on his own, following a trail of clues that lead him to uncover a shocking forbidden love and the imperfect life of Captain Pretorius, a man whose relationships with the black and coloured residents of the town he ruled were more complicated and more human than anyone could have imagined.The first in her Detective Emmanuel Cooper series,A Beautiful Place to Diemarks the debut of a talented writer who reads like a brilliant combination of Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene. It is a tale of murder, passion, corruption, and the corrosive double standard that defined an apartheid nation. I
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, c2009
Edition: 1st Atria Books hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781416586203
Characteristics: 375 p. ; 24 cm


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IndyPL_RobinK Aug 29, 2019

This first in the series is so relevant to what is happening in this country right now with the superiority attitude of some whites toward blacks. Although this is set in Africa in 1952, one can draw parallels with what has happened in this country's dark past through today's current attitudes of hatred based solely on skin color. The mystery takes various turns and is somewhat secondary to the character studies, from the murdered white police captain to the family who wants to find his killer.

Jul 30, 2014

I liked it but felt it went on a little longer than necessary. Very confusing to take in the class prejudice of this segregated country & society - I don't know who is/what is the difference between the so called races. Simply hateful attitudes from lily white European superiority mindset that still exists in areas today.

Jul 27, 2014

My Top Recommendation for a Series for 2014. I know we are only half way through the year at this point, but I know nothing will top this series...
This is not a book you can read without strong physical reactions. Because we know what happens as Apartheid gains force, it is chilling and frustrating to watch its roots taking hold. Since I am not 100% white (although I pass), Emmanuel's struggles with his own ambiguous position are personal for me. His struggle to do his job in the face of a family run amok, a village of non-whites who also see him as the enemy, and a Jewish shop keeper who hides information like a treasure all make this a book that is hard to put down.
The second book is even better because Nunn is growing as a writer as she takes us deeper into the changes South Africans endure.
It is strange that I had so much trouble figuring out all the "race categories." Even whites are divided into hierarchical groups. The hate, loathing actually, of each group for the other is almost palpable, yet men seem to be able to use women for sex without regard for race, and (as in the US South) children of wealthy whites are raised by Black women--while learning to hate anyone with a trace of non-white blood. If you enjoyed The Butler or The Help, you will probably like this series. I can hardly wait for whatever Nunn give us next.

Jul 07, 2013

In A Beautiful Place To Die we have a multi-layered plot, rich characters and a setting that is intriguing and interesting to read about. This is not a book that is first and foremost about the mystery, the author keeps many things back and lets her story unfold slowly. Secrets are the engine that move this book along, and I believe Malla Nunn has many more to offer in future books.


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Jan 31, 2012

Bloody good!


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