A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn
Who murdered the white Afrikaner police captain in a small South African border town in 1952? Was it a family row? As English detective Emmanuel Cooper and his Zulu sidekick investigate the personal relationships, including the role of a powerful landowner family and that of a beautiful “Coloured” (mixed race) woman, who may know more than she is saying, Cooper finds himself in conflict with the national security police out to get the “Communist” rebels whose nonviolent Defiance Campaign for civil right threatens the government. What holds the reader in this debut historical mystery (the first of a projected series about Detective Cooper) is the fabric of secrets and lies, supported by the Immorality Act, which makes it a crime to have sex across the color line. It is sometimes hard to keep straight who’s who in the community, but the story is consistently engaging, with revelations right up until the very end. Born in southern Africa, the author gets the politics exactly right: the farce, cruelty, sorrow, and rebellion in daily life.