Title: The October Killings
Author: Wessel Ebersohn
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When Abigail Bukula was fifteen years old, her family was the target of an apartheid raid, as her parents were anti-apartheid activists. A white soldier saved Abigail’s life, and years later, after Abigail has risen through the ranks of the South African justice department, that soldier comes to Abigail for help because he fears his life is in danger.
The October Killings is a fascinating novel for many reasons. The characters, the mystery, but most of all, it’s the setting that makes the novel unique. Set 10 years after the end of apartheid in South Africa, the book highlights the contemporary issues facing the country today. From racial tensions to the mistrust of anyone associated with the apartheid government, even if they are the only ones qualified for a certain governmental position, Ebersohn highlights the struggles that South Africa is undergoing, politically, socially, and economically.
Indeed, Ebersohn isn’t afraid to mine South Africa’s troubled and violent past to craft an engaging and thrilling story. From the very beginning, readers will be hooked on Abigail’s story, eager to learn more about the past she has tried so hard to put behind her. She is a strong, resourceful character, and it’s wonderful to see how progressive she is. Abigail is willing to work with anyone who has the skills to help her and doesn’t automatically disqualify someone just because they worked for the apartheid government.
This book also blurs the moral lines very well. The soldier that saved Abigail’s life has her implicit trust, and she will do anything to help him. But, at the same time, he was working for the apartheid government that came after her family. These nuances make this novel incredibly interesting, as the reader really can see how difficult it is to judge people based on past deeds or associations.
The mystery within The October Killings is exciting, but it’s pretty clear early on in the novel who is behind the murders. Abigail knows the answers intuitively; the problem is staying one step ahead of this killer before he comes after her soldier, Leon. It’s well written and exciting, and fans of literary mysteries should definitely consider picking this novel up.