CityLife Arts

Three Bodies, crime fiction at its best

By Edward Tsumele 

There is a new book on the bookshelves by veteran journalist, academic and novelist NR Brodie entitled Three Bodies that calls for every lover of crime fiction to read it.  

When a cleaner at an upmarket Housing Estate  where the wealthy, who also happen to have a dark past in the South African police during apartheid, discovered a body of a mysterious woman floating  and tied to a black plastic bag in the Hartbeesproot  Dam, that triggered a chain of events.

The fact that the body of this woman also happens to have mysteriously and deliberately created scars on her wrists, further deepened the mystery, and therefore the suspicion of a meticulous police woman Captain Reshma Patel, and her former police boyfriend, Ian Jacks, sucking   both of them into this mysterious case that also attracted the interest of an elite cash heist task force led by one General William Sobukwe.

General Sobukwe is a non-nonsense police official who does not trust any of his colleagues. But he is honest and hard-working, and is committed to put behind bars cash heist gangsters. The commitment of this police general should give hope to those who doubt that there are still, any old-fashioned good working policemen the SAPS today. 

Through the efforts of Jacks, who despite of the fact that he is no longer a police man, but an academic researcher associated with  a Non-Profit Organisation that is donor  funded,  he sometimes freelances as a private investigator, and Patel, a  meticulous, hard-working and highly committed police woman, pieces of the puzzle eventually come together. But first two more bodies whose killers used the same modus operandi are discovered, one in the Vaal Dam, and another one in the Jukskei River near Alexandra. And just like the first body discovered in the Hartsbeespoort Dam, both these bodies have the infamous wrist scratches and are similarly bizarrely dumped in water. 

This extensive investigation takes the police into dark tunnels, where more discoveries of human remains and money stuffed in waste plastics. These tunnels have since become disused under Park Station. The investigation also leads to the Pathological Forensic Laboratories in Hillbrow, Garankuwa and   Meyerton where eventually there was a chance skirmish with a notorious gang that used muti ostensibly to protect themselves. 

Three Bodies is a fascinating foray into detective police work, gives an insight into the psychology and the mind of cash heist gangsters, as well as illuminates on the role of greed sangomasin cash heists planning and execution. 

A follow up to her previous novel Knuckle Bone, this is a must read book, especially for residents of Johannesburg, as the novel will take them to familiar places, such as Park Station, Brixton, the suburb of Westdene and others areas such famous pizza places and coffee shops It is a believable, and stunning piece of fiction that should cement Brodie’s position as one of the most significant and recent literary voices in the genre of crime fiction. In the book, you will meet unusual bedfellows, such as wealthy shady former policeman working in cahoots with greed sangomas for the sake of attaining power and wealth. 

I would recommend this book to those who like crime fiction, as well as the residents of Johannesburg and visitors alike. 

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