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Monday, September 30, 2019


I cannot recommend this hugely entertaining novel enough if you’re in the mood for a thoroughly enjoyable read. (Review by Barry Meehan)

When I was originally presented with a list of book titles for potential review by artSMart, Death on the Limpopo jumped out at me. I really couldn’t say why – maybe it was the artwork on the cover, maybe the pre-publicity blurb made the novel sound a bit quirky, but whatever it was, I’m very happy that I chose it.

I had also never heard of the Tannie Maria Mysteries but I believe that this is the third in a best-selling series, the previous titles being Recipes for Love and Murder and Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic. Those who have had the pleasure of reading the first two will no doubt have been waiting expectantly for this third offering.

By way of introduction, those who do not know – and as yet love – Tannie Maria, she is the agony aunt on a small newspaper in the heart of the Klein Karoo. She dispenses her wisdom and advice to the lovelorn and the troubled souls within the area – good advice, sometimes along with one of her recipes for local delicacies, which she has a-plenty. Unfortunately, when it comes to matters of her own heart, she does not have all the answers, as she has great trouble telling her boyfriend, Detective Henk Kannemeyer, that she loves him.

The peace of Tannie Maria’s small world at the newspaper is disturbed by the arrival of Zabanguni Kani, a journalist renowned for her political exposes, including the recent proposed Russian nuclear deal which was being forced upon the country by corrupt President Bob Mula. She zooms in to town on a Ducati motorbike, ostensibly sent by Head Office to advise the newspaper on how it should be “Africanised” to line up with modern-day South African publications, but it soon turns out that there is a much deeper story behind her visit.

And so begins an adventure with Zaba and Tannie Maria working together – a journey which involves uranium mining, red rocks, murder, spying devices, water maidens, the Cango caves, serious danger and a lot more – a journey of personal discovery that takes them across the country to the “great grey green greasy Limpopo”.

Author Sally Andrew has a great descriptive ability, bringing the dusty Klein Karoo to life with vivid imagery. She also has a wonderful, quirky turn of phrase which pops out when least expected, highlighting Tannie Maria’s slightly off-the-wall but larger-than-life character. As she’s about to embark on her journey with Zaba, Henk presents her with a pair of red veldskoene. “I put the new veldskoene on and walked around the table. I’d never worn red shoes before, but the veldskoene didn’t know this, and they behaved as if we were old friends. They made me feel fast and light. And a little naughty.” 

I cannot recommend this hugely entertaining novel enough if you’re in the mood for a thoroughly enjoyable read. So settle down with coffee and buttermilk poppy-seed rusks, or even some roosterkoek and immerse yourself in the world of Tannie Maria. And by the way, if any of the delicious-sounding food described along the journey has you intrigued and wanting to experience it, you have the choice of a road trip to the Karoo or trying it out for yourself at home – all the recipes are included at the end of the book.

Death on the Limpopo is published in paperback by Umuzi through Penguin Random House Struik - ISBN NO 9781415210451. Recommended Retail Price R260.00. - Barry Meehan