Author: Ian Patrick
Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing
Book procurement: Received a copy from author for an honest review.
Release Date: August 4, 2015.
After midnight on a moonlit beach six policemen led by a top detective execute four criminals who have perpetrated the most heinous rape, mutilation and murder of a young woman. The police are unaware that there is a witness to the executions. The action that follows is set against dubious tactical, ethical and sometimes criminal choices faced by the central characters. The reader is left with a stark image of moral ambiguity as the police struggle to maintain courageous and precarious control of the crime that engulfs them, and the work of ‘plain dealing’ cops comes under scrutiny. The third book in The Ryder Quartet takes the reader on an emotional and action-packed journey through the choices made by police in their day-to-day confrontation with rampant and brutal crime in contemporary South Africa.
In a discussion with a couple of fellow South Africans about books that deal with our country, a unanimous decision was reached that those types of books make us uncomfortable. As much as the story is fictitious, it doesn’t demean the message nor the reality that the events and situations in the books are possibly happening right now. Even more so when it comes to our beloved law enforcement agencies. Coupled with that is the age old question; how should justice be meted out.
Plain Dealing is a story of justice and morality. It is the story of choice and consequence and the plain reality that crime is a scabrous wound that never heals, regardless of the bandages we wrap around it. Slathering it with ointment and antiseptics may heal it, but the scar remains, as it did for Detective Nights Mashego and his colleagues in the police force. Having suffered greatly at the hands of vicious criminals, the detective sees crime in a new light, one that scuffs the ethics of justice.
A definitely intriguing storyline told from a third person perspective, across various characters, which was great to get a feel of who each one was and their motives behind their actions. However, there were cases where, rather than guiding along the narrative to get a picture of what was happening through conversation and sequential run of events, there were paragraphs that “told” the direct events. This also made the book shorter (200 odd pages) which, at the end, made sense when I read that Ian Patrick was an actor and director; those paragraphs were the informative story-pushing details between scenes.
The dialogue at times felt forced. And not even the legitimate broken-English of one of the main characters the story follows. That was understandable. It was the other conversations that did not feel natural. Especially with repeating people’s names during conversations. It was obvious the idea was to bypass the “Ryder said”, “Mashego replied” “Navi answered” etc of identifying the speaker or to whom the speaker was speaking to, but it also broke the “normal-ness” of dialogue. Some of the conversations were also too unnatural in some cases, feeling like direct statements rather than actual conversational dialogue.
Nonetheless, the overall telling of the story, the message of the novel, and the unraveling mystery of the plot, spurred me on to read the book. No doubt Ian Patrick is a great storyteller. A great understanding of our country and it’s locations, people and standpoints gave a fantastic scene for Plain Dealing to play out. A nice touch with the local lingo too.
Mashego was a fascinating character, plagued by a dark past and guided by it towards his own form of justice. Ryder falls into the same mould as Mashego, and the only difference between them is their pasts; contrasting characters that are as similar as they are different. Strong, intelligent Navi Pillay plays an important role as Ryder’s partner, and along with a diverse cast of characters that corroborate South Africa’s rainbow nation claim. Ian Patrick captured each character well and there was no confusion between them.
In overall, a great story and one that made me question whether how I view the justice system would be marred, if I had suffered a great injustice at the hands of criminals set free by a sometimes corrupt justice system. As my blog sub-title states:
“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”
And Ian Patrick says what we are unable to say with clarity.
Rating: An affectionate 3 out of 5.