Author: Deon Meyer
Narrator: Simon Vance
Published 2011 by HighBridge Audio
16 hours, Unabridged

TRACKERS coverSelecting Trackers by Deon Meyer as my first title to listen to for the Solid Gold Reviewer program at Audiobook Jukebox was an experiment that paid off extremely well. I had never heard of Meyer before, but even in the brief summary provided by the publisher the premise sounded very intriguing. I was also captivated by the notion of a thriller set in contemporary South Africa, as that’s a setting I had not previously visited in my crime fiction reading. I am happy to report that Deon Meyer is a new favorite, and I’ll be seeking out his entire backlist, in print or on audio — whatever I can get my hands on.

Four separate storylines develop, converge, and gradually begin to intertwine in this fast-paced, suspenseful and entertaining story of misdeeds and misunderstandings in post-9/11 South Africa. Fleeing a loveless marriage, Milla Strachan seeks a job in Cape Town on the strength of her decades-neglected journalism credentials; the only position on offer turns out to be compiling and writing reports for the Presidential Intelligence Agency, South Africa’s equivalent to the CIA. A lowly paper pusher like Milla has no way of seeing the bigger picture that she is just one small part of: a PIA investigation into an apparent collaboration between local crime gangs of the Cape Flats and international radical Muslim terrorists. Personnel at the highest levels of the PIA are involved in surveillance of various activities and meetings that point to something large and sinister brewing that just may involve al-Qaida. Meanwhile, out in the boondocks north of the city, freelance bodyguard Lemmer reluctantly accepts a job from a local rancher, known for his wheeling and dealing. Lemmer is to venture to the Zimbabwean border and escort a rare and valuable breeding pair of endangered black rhinoceros to a safe refuge. The bodyguard is experienced enough to recognize that there is more to this job than meets the eye, but he goes along with it anyway — a move he comes to regret. After these three storylines collide and explode, a seemingly unrelated missing-persons case in Cape Town for ex-cop Mat Joubert, newly minted as a private investigator, finally ties up (almost) all the loose ends.

Veteran audiobook reader Simon Vance does a marvelous job providing the voices for the many different characters from disparate backgrounds, as well as solid narration from the various points of view. I am no expert on South African accents, but they all sounded good to me, and it was easy to tell characters apart by Vance’s skillful variations in tone, pitch and diction.

Deon Meyer’s observation of South African society in all its maddening dysfunction is razor-sharp yet not entirely without hope. His protagonists are full of life: flawed, damaged, but deeply moral at the core. Both Lemmer and Joubert have appeared in previous books and seem set to appear in more; I look forward to getting better acquainted with both men.