Local thrillers with twist in the tale

Bad Company was my introduction to South African thriller fiction. A collection of short stories by a variety of local writers, it takes the reader to different South African settings.

Bad Company was my introduction to South African thriller fiction. A collection of short stories by a variety of local writers, it takes the reader to different South African settings.

The ending of the stories are never obvious and draw on contemporary issues such as last year's devastating xenophobic killings.

The stories are beautifully written, though some do not deliver on the "intrigue, suspense and thrills" that are promised. Read in bed, some will make the reader wary of things that go bump in the night.

One that struck a chord was Jassy Mackenzie's The Beginning. Set in an idyllic and small Free State town, it reads like a teen Hollywood series but with dark and sinister undertones.

It begins with the mysterious murder of a beautiful blonde Grade 12 schoolgirl. Her half-naked body is found in a forest, her skull shattered and her hair infested with ants.

The town's only black man, with a menacing and unsmiling face, who mysteriously disappears soon after the murder, is the only suspect. A series of baffling confessional letters appear in Wouter Grobler's letter box, whose connection with the dead girl is initially unclear. The star of the story is however Kate, who on the surface seems innocent and mousy.

Mackenzie's tale is pacey with dollops of danger and intrigue. It will appeal to die-hard fans of thrillers and newcomers to the genre.

The compilation also features the work of best-selling isiZulu crime thriller author Meshack Masondo.

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