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Sunday, December 21, 2014


As hot, gritty and as vast as its Karoo countryside setting. (Review by Keith Millar)

Weeping Waters is the excellent English translation by Maya Fowler and Isobel Dixon of Karin Brynard’s 2009 Afrikaans best-seller Plaasmood (Farm Murder).

This crime-thriller is as hot, gritty and as vast as the Karoo countryside which serves as the setting for the story.

It is to a small town in this arid region that policeman Inspector Albertus Beeslaar has moved to in an attempt to escape problems, both professional and private, which were overwhelming him in the big ruthless city of Johannesburg.

Unfortunately his hopes of peace and quiet are ruined, firstly by a spate of highly organised stock thefts and then the violent murder of an up and coming artist, Freddie Swarts, and her adopted daughter on their remote and lonely farm.

The pressure is on Beeslaar to solve these crimes and the only help he is from his two inexperienced sergeants, Ghaap and Pyl.

There are many suspects but prime among them is Freddie’s mysterious bushman farm manager, Dam De Kok. He, however, has pretty good alibi.

Freddie’s estranged Sister Sara then appears on the scene and is convinced that the murders are not typical farm murders and that there are far more sinister forces at play.

Then there are more murders in the town and the situation escalates out of control with age-old hostilities surfacing and the local inhabitants mobilising and threatening violent action.

While Weeping Waters is a crime novel the story has been interwoven with many of the social and political problems which are a reality in modern day South Africa.

Other than the central theme of farm murders the story is also influenced by issues such as land ownership, sangomas and witchcraft, stock theft, senseless crime and politically inspired appointments or BEE. Strong emotions, racism, superstition, political hatred and greed all raise their ugly heads as the action unfolds.

Author Karin Brynard worked for many years as a journalist and political correspondent and has used her knowledge of the socio-political situation in the country, as well as that of the enigmatic Karoo landscapes to create a backdrop for her novel which is both realistic and convincing. Her cast of characters are well-rounded and many carry secrets from the past which add to the drama of the narrative.

Mary Fowler and Ingrid Dixon’s translation of the original work is impressive. Despite being in English they have managed to capture the essence and character of the plateland Karoo environment and its people which, by and large, are Afrikaans orientated. In so doing they have made an important and successful work available to a far wider audience.

This book is a must for all lovers of crime fiction.

Weeping Waters is published by Penguin Books, South Africa. It is available as a Paperback, ISBN 978-0-14-353912-4 or as an eBook eISNB 978-0-14-353161-6. Recommended Price R235. – Keith Millar