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Tuesday, May 24, 2022


All in all, “Hammerman” makes for riveting reading and is highly recommended. (Review by Barry Meehan)

“Hammerman” – a word used by the gangs of the Cape Flats when referring to a killer – an assassin. It refers to the hammer of a gun, activated by a trigger finger, making contact with the cartridge casing, causing the bullet to speed out of the barrel, on its way to its intended target.

Hammerman – A Walking Shadow is the fifth and (spoiler alert) the last in Mike Nicol’s Fish and Vicki series, so if you’ve been a reader of Nicol’s, now would be a good time to order the book. I must admit I have not read any of his previous political thrillers, and I almost didn’t get past the first few paragraphs of this one! Nicol has a very quirky (almost affected) writing style, as per the following:

“Fish Pescado on a stakeout in his Polo. Had followed a civil servant (female) to the home of a corporate CEO (male). The home in the quiet leafy Croft Road, Constantia. Had been sitting there fifty minutes. Had checked the surf report on his phone. The Atlantic was pumping. A decent wave with a fresh offshore. Had listened to a podcast: Surfing Dungeons. Not that he would ever go near Dungeons. A suicide wave.”

So, I very nearly put the book aside but then thought that as it was the fifth in the series, it had to appeal to a large proportion of readers/fans, so I delved a bit deeper into the novel. A few pages later, however, I nearly put it aside again when there was a major “nudge nudge, wink wink” moment – the appearance of the leaders of the PPP – the People’s Power Party – at the scene of a gangland shooting. The leaders’ names? Cesar Mapula and Boyd Mvambu. Sound familiar? Cesar and Boyd? Get it? Pretty obvious who we’re actually talking about here!

Be that as it may, I soldiered on through the novel and by the time I was a quarter of the way into Hammerman, I was glad that I’d persevered, as it turned out to be pretty entertaining, keeping the reader guessing while the action moves along at a rollicking pace, taking several unexpected twists and turns.

Fish Pescado is a likeable hero – a Private Investigator who would rather spend his days surfing the Muizenberg shore break. He’s on a case which finds him chasing down a rogue Government agent who appears to be involved in many killings – a politician executed outside Parliament, his number two executed with a high-class hooker, along with a Cabinet minister and a couple of cops. Everything points to a tie-in with the assassination of the Swedish Prime Minister, Olaf Palme far back in 1986.

Fish’s lover, former Intelligence Officer Vicki Kahn, would also appear to be a target, even while she is lying in a coma in hospital. Can Fish solve his case and protect Vicki at the same time? All in all, “Hammerman” makes for riveting reading and is highly recommended.

Hammerman – A Walking Shadow is published by - ISBN  978-1-4152-1092-5 – Barry Meehan