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Seven Days    by Deon Meyer order for
Seven Days
by Deon Meyer
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've been a committed fan of Deon Meyer mysteries ever since the first, Heart of the Hunter. Instead of sticking to one series lead, he moves between different protagonists - all very flawed, very real, ultimately sympathetic characters - for his excellent thrillers.

This latest, Seven Days (translated from Afrikaans by K. L. Seegers), stars Detective Captain Benny Griessel. A divorced recovering alcoholic, he was last seen in Thirteen Hours along with forthright feminist Inspector Mbali Kaleni, who reappears this time as well (under somewhat of a cloud after a mysterious happening at a police conference in Holland).

After the South African Police Services receive an email threatening to shoot a policeman every day until Hanneke Sloet's murderer is arrested, officers are shot daily from long distances by an elusive sniper. Of course, Hanneke Sloet's case is reopened and it is assigned to Benny Griessel (Mbali Kaleni leads the investigation of police shootings).

It's bad timing for Benny as his beloved, alcoholic singer Alexa Barnard, is highly stressed by her upcoming comeback concert, and he is unable to be there for her - she starts drinking again. And Benny, who has never talked about his work, finds that he must force himself to do so to Alexa, for both their sakes.

Hanneke Sloet was an ambitious lawyer, murdered at home in her new townhouse. The shooter's emails are full of Bible quotations and he talks about communists; who would they be? As Benny systematically puts together 'the jigsaw puzzle' of the dead lawyer's life - and finds a disturbing pattern - Mbali steadily zeroes in on the sniper.

As always in a Meyer thriller, there's plenty of misdirection and the resolutions - to both the sniper shootings and the lawyer's murder - are unexpected. In addition to the main plot, fans will appreciate the development of Benny's and Alexa's relationship and enjoy learning of Mbali's mishap in Amsterdam - I do hope she gets even bigger roles in subsequent episodes.

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