Serial killers and cosy crime


Serial killers and cosy crime

LINZA DE JAGER read a perfect thriller and an Indian detective mystery.


BOOKWORMS are a different kind of people. We look tame, but we are wild. We indulge in crime thrillers in which people obliterate each other. Once a scone pops up in a story it's categorised as cosy crime.

This past week, with my tame face and all, I fell for Robert Rutherford's perfect thriller, Seven Days, and Suk Pannu's tasty Mrs Sidhu's Dead and Scone

The serial killer in Seven Days reminds me of Dr Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. No, I'm not thinking about the terrible grille over his mouth that was supposed to prevent him from eating people. I mean the intellect, the part of him that impressed one despite everything.

Dr Elias Grey doesn't appear until late in the book, and at first he looks like a helpful doctor who shares his knowledge about a colleague who is under a cloud. Up to this point, Seven Days is largely about Alice Logan's attempt to get her father, about whom she has mixed feelings, off Death Row.

Alice is a lawyer who takes care of her ailing mother. Her father, Jim Sharp, turned his back on his family and Alice did her best to forget about him. When her sister Fiona informs her that Jim will be executed for murder in seven days, old bonds of loyalty wake up. Caring stirs deep within her. She wants to save him despite everything, and when she looks at his case, she sees irregularities.

The events are set in New York and Paris. The reader is drawn into Alice's investigation in a French capital that feels anything but romantic. Instead, it's full of gangsters and red herrings. Alice doesn't know if she can trust detective Luc Boudreaux, and I didn't know who to trust.

At times, the atmosphere is as thick as a prison's fortified door. There are no easy answers here. Even the murderer has a point, because he only killed people who have blood on their hands. “Every one of those men deserved what happened," he says. “The people they hurt, the ones I had to patch up, or worse still break the bad news to their relatives. I am the balance."

Seven Days by Robert Rutherford was published by Hodder & Stoughton and costs R405 at Exclusive Books.

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Much tamer is Suk Pannu's Mrs Sidhu's Dead and Scone. Mrs Sidhu is a detective-chef. However, her career is at an impasse in all areas. Day by day she prepares eggplant bhaji for her stingy boss Varma, and she's extremely frustrated.

However, things change faster than you can say “aubergine" when she gets a call from an exclusive sanatorium, Benham House Retreat. The sanatorium could do with a caterer, as well as someone to investigate the murder of psychologist Dr Wendy Calman.

Then one eccentric episode follows another, with a lot of gallows humour. And Mrs Sidhu is almost cancelled when it becomes known at the sanatorium that she prepared food in a “toilet kitchen".

To me, Mrs Sidhu and her Indian family were the most enjoyable part of the story. There isn't a boring one between them. I only have one complaint, and maybe it's a case of being spoilt for choice. In my opinion, all the twists and turns in the plot were not needed.

Mrs Sidhu's Dead and Scone by Suk Pannu was published by HarperCollins and costs R305 at Exclusive Books.

♦ VWB ♦

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