“A proudly Zululand product”
For this, his first foray into fiction, Zululander Peter Cleary can be more than proud of his effort.
‘Second Chance’ is an all-action book that races along, covering a period of two weeks of cloak-and-dagger action.
Like Cleary, the main characters all have strong personalities.
This includes the macho main role player, Bart; the sexy and desirably dangerous ‘across the colour bar’ beauty, Sassy; and the bulldogged racist cop, Captain Van Niekerk.
As they interact, dark secrets are unearthed – and the plot thickens as Bart’s father’s ‘natural death’ proves to in fact have been a foul murder… and not the only one.
With all the passionate people the novel portrays, it’s perfectly natural that there is also a fair amount of ‘SNL’ – as tastily written as possible and adding strength to the plot, rather than as gratuitous cheap thrills.
For me, there are many aspects that really grabbed my attention, resulting in my completing the novel in just two sittings.
Though a work of fiction, the words are woven against a background of fact:
The setting is the Eastern Cape, where I grew up. Suffice to say that Cleary’s accurate use of names and places could be used as a tour guide for visitors.
The time frame is the apartheid era, with all its evil and ludicrous laws and restrictions having a bearing on the outcome and used perfectly in context.
It also shows the courage of those who refused to be defined by those intolerable laws.
The hero is an award-winning photo journalist, displaying exactly the type of recklessness and instinct such an occupation demands.
The legal nuances and references to sport, farming and the Xhosa culture are all totally accurate and plausible.
To sum up: in not trying to be too clever, Cleary has been brilliant.
The book is easy to read, yet thought-provoking, and should have ‘Proudly South African’ stamped all over it.
For me, as a friend and admirer, ‘A Proudly Zululand Product’ will suffice.
Dave Savides – Zululand Observer