I have been eagerly anticipating a new novel by my favourite crime/suspense/thriller author, Roger Smith. I just finished Dust Devils (after having to share it with my father or having him steal it from my room so he can get a few chapters in before I steal it back) and I was absolutely not disappointed. I am a great fan of crime fiction but Roger Smith does it like no other author I have ever read. His portrayal of South Africa and it’s contrasts is so honest and provoking, so if you have an idealized perception of this place, after reading this book you will be shocked. I was.
In contrast to his other two novels, which were set in Cape Town, Dust Devils is largely set in Bambatha’s Rock, in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province. The story follows Robert Dell, a journalist who is on the run after being framed for his family’s murder and he turns to his oldest enemy: his own father. In the mix we also have Disaster Zondi (a character who I hope will be featuring in future novels), who is seeking revenge of his own kind.
Roger Smith portrays a vivid picture of the realities of the politics in this new democracy, the attitude of people toward the HIV/AIDS pandemic that has the country in a grip of panic, and the sad and unfortunate ways that some groups still have of dealing with it, the aftermath of the Apartheid regime and what kind of legacy -and indeed, scars- it has left with the people of the country and most importantly, I think, the attitudes of South Africans toward one another.
This explosive and dynamic novel is an eye-opener to the realities of what South Africa has become, but even more than that, it is a damn fine piece of writing.
If it were a film, I would have given it a standing ovation.