Book Review: The Last Hunt by Deon Meyer
By Ray PalenMay 5, 2020
When a cold case dossier lands on Captain Benny Griessel’s desk, he and his partner Vaughn Cupido, a fellow member of an elite police unit in South Africa, reluctantly set to work reviewing the evidence of the possible murder of an ex-cop on the world’s most luxurious train.
When you read about South Africa you can hear the unique accent coming through — Afrikaans, somewhere between British and Australian. You expect it to be like another world until you see that they deal with the same issues of favoritism and political corruption that we do. The master of this land, from a literary standpoint, is author Deon Meyer who is back with another Benny Griessel Mystery titled The Last Hunt.
To keep things interesting, the novel does not belong solely to Benny Griessel. The narrative jumps back and forth between Griessel’s latest case and a man in Paris named Daniel Darret. The story actually opens with Darret, who is taking a late-night stroll through a park in Bordeaux. It is there where he sees a young woman being chased by a gang of thugs. He has no choice but to get involved and he actually fends them off with a few knife wounds to show for it. The lady, a Madame Lecompte offers him a quiet ‘merci’ before drifting off back into the night, but Darret knows he will see her again.
Back in Bellville, South Africa, two Captains from the special police squad known as the Hawks — Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido — are called into the office of their female superior, Colonel Mbali Kaleni. They are provided with a substantial docket on a new case involving a former policeman by the unique name of Johnson Johnson. He had since gone into the private security business. While on a job as the security detail for an elderly woman on the high-class Rovos Train Line, Johnson Johnson simply disappears without a sight. Foul play is definitely suspected and Colonel Kaleni needs her best Hawks on the case.
Griessel and Cupido begin with Johnson’s ex-wife, Robyn. She cannot speak highly enough of her ex-husband and swears that he would never abandon their two children. It’s obvious someone got into an altercation with Johnson and threw him from the moving train or, for some reason, he was compelled to leave the train during one of its stops. Meanwhile, back in Paris, Daniel Darret views from a distance a face in the crowd that looks familiar to him. A man named Lonnie May, who is part of a past that Darret left Africa to get away from.
Darret and Lonnie eventually reunite and Lonnie May is extremely nervous because he knows he is being followed and his life is in jeopardy. Darret and May were part of a highly-trained revolutionary group many years ago. It turns out Lonnie was actually sent to Paris to find Darret and draw him back in for a big assignment. His revolutionary comrades feel that the current South African President has gotten out of control and needs to be stopped permanently. Darret is the man for this job and Lonnie lays out who he should communicate with if he decides to take them up on the offer. When Lonnie May is killed at the airport while attempting to leave Paris, it is evident to Darret that his cover is blown. When he learns that Madame Lecompte was attacked in her apartment and hospitalized, Darret realizes he is now on his own with no choice but to get in touch with his revolutionary brothers.
In South Africa, Griessel and Cupido identify a body near the side of the train tracks that ends up being Johnson Johnson. As their investigation continues, the father of a close friend of Colonel Kaleni is found dead in what appears to be suicide. She pulls Griessel and Cupido to handle that case as well and the forensic findings show that it may very well have been a suicide. Little do they know how entangled their two cases will be. To make matters even more interesting, their cases will soon be crossing tracks with Daniel Darret who has made his way back to South Africa. The Last Hunt is a brilliantly written novel from start to finish with twists and revelations that will keep readers guessing right up to the very last chapter.