Yudel loves his work, even though he is often at odds with his boss. Because he is interested in "the intricacies of the criminal mind," Yudel sometimes ends up exploring issues beyond the guidelines of his job, and actually seeking to solve the crime itself.
In this case, Freek Jordaan, a friend who works in Pretoria CID, asks Yudel to evaluate whether a prisoner is mentally fit to stand trial. Muskiet Lesoro, a black man, has been accused of poisoning the son of a wealthy man, a deputy minister of Pensions and Welfare. In Yudel's opinion, the prisoner is insane, not fit to be tried; Yudel is also sure that this prisoner could not have killed a man by poisoning him. He wants to find out more about the crime, so he persuades his friend to support his visit to the Middlespruit area to investigate further. That area has had several racially-motivated incidents recently, and Yudel is not exactly welcomed by the police there.
The content of the book is frightening; the ability of people to abuse others just because of race or religion is horrifying. The story is very well written, and the characters are realistically portrayed. Even secondary characters are fleshed out. Yudel is a fascinating man, brave and acting foolishly rash at times, but caring very much about people. He deals with everyone calmly and respectfully at all times.
Having written several novels that were anti-apartheid, Ebersohn "was repeatedly harassed by the police, his books were later banned, and for a time he was forced into hiding. " See more about this author at the Mystery Scene website.
Ebersohn has published seven novels that feature Yudel, written over a wide span of years:
1. A Lonely Place to Die (1979)If you are looking for a mystery novel that deals with social issues, I highly recommend this book. Unfortunately it is not in print, so if you cannot locate a used copy, a library book may be the best bet.
2. Divide the Night (1981)
3. Closed Circle (1990)
4. The October Killings (2011)
5. Those Who Love Night (2012)
6. The Top Prisoner of C-Max (2012)
7. A League of Geniuses (2016)
Publisher: Vintage Books, 1980. Orig. pub. 1979.
Length: 269 pages
Series: Yudel Gordon
Setting: South Aftica
Source: I purchased my copy.