The Wall

BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

THE WALL, 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.

Meanwhile, 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.