Read on for my review ...
Reconciliation for the Dead
By Paul Hardisty
Published by Orenda Books (30 May 2017)
Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.
For me, Reconciliation for the Dead was a tough read. Not in terms of the writing - that's perfect, fast paced and totally mesmerising, putting the reader right into the heart of its South African setting. But I found it tough in terms of the subject matter and emotional undercurrent - the horror and realism of war, death and corruption in 1980s South Africa, when men in the position of authority were governed by greed and deceit.
I've read the two previous Claymore Striker books and loved both of them. Reconciliation for the Dead is a very different read, concentrating mainly on the past, rather than the 'here and now'. Clay is recounting events that led to his dishonourable army discharge and exile fifteen years earlier, while appearing before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These events are traumatic, personal and horrific, responsible for shaping Clay's character in this series. On reading this, the previous books seemed to make more sense to me. Yet I'm sure this book could also be read as a standalone.
I believe this is Paul Hardisty's best book so far (I'm hoping there are many more to come). He took me on an emotional rollercoaster ride, swinging between fear and anger, hope and despair, even more so than with his two previous books, which are also powerful and moving. Based on fact, this page-turning book is a perfect mixture of crime, thriller, politics, social history and science, opening up my eyes to a country whose past I know little about.
Reconciliation for the Dead is different from the norm, and I can't praise it highly enough.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.
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