REVIEW by Willard Manus
a thriller by Max Annas, presents a microcosm of South African society
with its horrific problems of racism, crime and class struggle. Translated
from the German by Rachel Hildebrandt, the novel takes place in The Pines,
a gated community in East London, South Africa where wealthy white folks
lead privileged, segregated lives.
Moses, a young black college student, is on his way to visit his girlfriend
Sandi when his car breaks down outside The Pines. He then errs by entering
the enclave to enlist the help of a friend who lives there (and is handy
with cars). Unfortunately no one is home and Moses is confronted by two
security guards, who are on the hunt for suspected thieves. The guards
mistakenly believe he's one of them and attack him with their clubs and
tasers. Moses fights back and flees, bloodied and terrified, in a desperate
attempt to avoid any further trouble.
the actual intruders, two black crooks, Nozipho and Thembinkosi, are busy
plying their trade: cleaning a house out of its jewelry and silverware.
Their shock is great when they discover that the streets outside are crawling
with security guards. They too must now try and find a way to escape arrest.
Unfortunately the guards have called the police and blocked off the main
entrance. Pistols are being brandished as well. The thieves could lose
their lives if caught.
Nozipho and Thembinkosi--and the lone wolf Moses--struggle desperately
(and separately) to find a way to break out of this suburban maze. Upon
being spotted by the authorities, and by some of the inhabitants as well
(including a sympathetic black maid), they must climb fences, fight off
guard dogs, crawl through bushes and tunnels, and run like hell to keep
from being apprehended.
The author turns this cat and mouse game into a life and death struggle
that catches you up in its drama and suspense.