Roger Smith

Mixed Blood

"Mixed Blood just doesn’t put a foot wrong."


Reluctant bank robber Jack Burn is on the run after a heist in the United States that left $3 million missing and one cop dead. Discounting all other options he decides to make a new life out in Cape Town, South Africa, for his pregnant wife and young son. But on a quiet evening in their new suburban neighbourhood they are the victims of a random gangland assault that changes everything.

Benny Mongrel, recently released convict and now, night watchman is guarding a building site next to Burn's home. He is another who is desperate to escape his past. After years in the ghetto gangs of Cape Town he knows who went into Burn's house, and what the American did to them. He also knows his only chance to save his own brown skin is to forget what he saw.

Burn's actions on that night trap them both in a cat-and-mouse game with Rudi 'Gatsby' Barnard - a corrupt Afrikaner cop who loves killing almost as much as he loves Jesus Christ. Disaster Zondi, a fastidious Zulu detective who wishes to settle an old score is brought in to investigate Gatsby, but once Gatsby smells those missing American millions the four men are drawn into a web of murder and vengeance that builds to an unforgettable conclusion.

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If you haven't yet discovered the work of Roger Smith it's high time you rushed down to your local bookshop and did just that. Simply said: the man is a talent. His prose is effective and spare. With just a few brushstrokes a character appears in your mind; the scene is set. The sense of place he evokes rings with veracity as does the feeling of impending violence that thrusts from each page. Mixed Blood is not an easy read. Modern South Africa is a troubled state with the wonders of this beautiful country and its privileged few on one side and on the other, the townships where life has taken on an aura of hopelessness for many of its citizens. Extremes of lifestyle sit uneasily on the page and in the conscience and that's the power of Roger Smith's writing. His characters are as fascinating a bunch as any you will read in any book. Despite his past, Smith makes you feel a certain sympathy for Burns. While his previous actions are never far from your thoughts, the payback he suffers as the books courses forward are their own punishment. Yet, still you push for him and want him to succeed. If only for the benefit of his wife and child. Gatsy Barnard, however is a different story. He is a living dinosaur, a throwback to the bad times of apartheid. An effective tool to demonstrate that the past still has a huge part to play in the present South Africa. He is as vile a character I have come across and one you will get down on your knees and pray that he gets his comeuppance. Roger Smith is an original - and Mixed Blood just doesn't put a foot wrong.

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