Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review - Silent Valley by Malla Nunn

Silent Valley Silent Valley by Malla Nunn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
PaperbackAustralian Edition313 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by PanMacmillan Australia
Source: Publisher for Review

A remote town. A girl of rare and exquisite beauty. A murder that silences a whole community.

The body of a seventeen-year-old girl has been found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, near Durban. She is the daughter of a Zulu chief, destined to fetch a high bride price. Was Amahle as innocent as her family claims, or is her murder a sign that she lived a secret life?

Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is sent to investigate. He must enter the guarded worlds of a traditional Zulu clan and a white farming community to gather up the clues Amahle left behind and bring her murderer to justice. But the silence in the valley is deafening, and it seems that everyone – from the uncooperative local police officer, to the white farm boy who seems obsessed with the dead girl – has something to hide.

With no cause of death and no motive, Cooper's investigation is blocked at each turn. Can he tough it out, or will the small-town politics that stir up his feelings about the past be more than he can bear?

In this page-turning tale of murder and mystery, Nunn entangles us in a rich and complex web of witchcraft, tribalism, taboo relationships... and plain old-fashioned greed.

My Thoughts:
Silent Valley is a very intriguing novel and explores many different issues. I have to admit though that the underlying politics and uncooperative nature of most of the characters in this book became very frustrating to me. I honestly cannot fathom what it would have been like to live in a world like this one and the segregation issues and corrupt nature of almost everyone really did sadden me after a while.

The main character, Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is an interesting character and was new to me as I haven't read any of the previous novels that he stars in. I liked the way he is a fair man but also isn't afraid to go against the grain to find out the truth rather than be swayed by the same feelings as everyone else. The equal way he treats his side-kick, the native Constable Samuel Shabalala, was comforting and a good representation of the fact that not everyone is swayed by cultural differences and that a friendship can develop between anyone no matter what your background is.

I found the insights that were given into the native Zulu traditions as well as the eye-opening
Apartheid systems and beliefs was extremely interesting and also very confronting.

Unfortunately, I felt the ending was a bit predictable and not as climaxing as it could have been.

This was my first time reading a novel by Malla Nunn and I am definitely interested in checking out some of her other work in the future.

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