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Quick Review: What Hidden Lies by Michéle Rowe

What Hidden LiesBy Phillip Altbeker for The Times

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a definite correlation between the level of crime in this country and the remarkable number of local authors and the high quality of their thrillers.

Racial tensions, resentments and corruption provide a dream, or nightmarish, background to these mysteries, but it still needs talent if these advantages are to be exploited to the full. The latest writer to succeed in reflecting the specific problems besetting policing while also offering a compelling narrative is Michéle Rowe in What Hidden Lies.

Persy Jonas, a detective, investigates a murder that has its roots in her own history; she reluctantly accepts help from Marge Labuschagne, a retired profiler, who also has cause to regret her past.

Jonas is posted to the Fish Hoek station, a microcosm of a police force still battling with prejudices and politics, factors that limit its ability to contend with a minor crime wave that can be traced to a gangster whose reputation makes him the prime suspect.

The dense plot includes a divisive environmental issue but the focus is on Jonas, her suppressed memories of a childhood that has a bearing on the case she is determined to solve despite obstacles, her own problems, and what she regards, initially, as Marge’s unwanted interference.

Both women are troubled and vulnerable but they are not the only characters given depth in this promising debut from a writer whose future works are worth waiting for, especially if Persy and Marge are retained because each has expertise, perseverance and an understanding of their community.

  • What Hidden Lies is published by Penguin

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