THE HERALD BOOK CLUB | Thrilling August reads from Park, Dlanga

The gripping novel Blood Trail by Tony Park and the hilarious It’s the Answers for Me by Khaya Dlanga are August’s Books of the Month.

Blood Trail is the first Tony Park book I have read and I was not disappointed.

This thrilling read kept me on the edge of my seat and I could not put this book down. 

The story takes place in SA’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

SA is under strict lockdown rules and the tourism sector is suffering.

People are getting desperate and crime is on the up.

One morning, during a virtual game drive, viewers are shocked when a safari game drive with ace trackers Mia  and Bongani turns into a chase for a rhino poacher.

The viewers get a first-hand glimpse of the brutality of poaching. 

Meanwhile, police detective Sannie van Rensburg is dealing with an angry community on the border of the Kruger National Park.

Girls have mysteriously vanished and the residents fear they have been taken for umuthi.

Mia and Sannie team up in their efforts to find the missing girls and uncover the poaching syndicate.

Park is a fantastic storyteller.

He has obviously done his homework about traditional beliefs and the poaching crisis in SA.

He focuses a lot on character development in the beginning but when the action starts, it is fast-paced and gripping.

There are a lot of clever plot twists in this book and it is highly recommended.

Slowing down the pace a bit, local author Dlanga’s It's the Answers for Me is hilarious and authentic.

An easy read, the book is the result of Dlanga’s  Q&A interactions with his followers on Instagram. 

In March 2020, Dlanga was alone, heartbroken after the loss of a loved one and facing an indefinite lockdown.

He used his social media platforms to stay connected to his followers and get some human contact. 

During this time he asked them plenty of questions... no topic was off limits.

The answers are hilarious, honest, heartbreaking and interesting.

This book is really clever and heartwarming, and I felt more human after reading it.

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Mini reviews (provided by Bargain Books)

The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller (August Debut of the month)

Before anyone else is awake, on a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the glorious freshwater pond below “The Paper Palace” — the gently decaying summer camp in the back woods of Cape Cod, where her family has spent every summer for generations.

As she passes the house, Elle glances through the screen porch at the uncleared table from the dinner the previous evening; empty wine glasses, candle wax on the tablecloth, echoes of laughter of family and friends.

Then she dives beneath the surface of the freezing water to the shocking memory of the sudden passionate encounter she had the night before, up against the wall behind the house, as her husband and mother chatted to the guests inside.

So begins a story that unfolds over 24 hours and across 50 years, as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision.

Over the next 24 hours, Elle will have to decide between the world she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace is a masterful novel that brilliantly illuminates the tensions between desire and safety, the legacy of tragedy, and the crimes and misdemeanours of families.

For Your Own Good, by Samantha  Downing

Teddy Crutcher has just won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy, home to the brightest and the best.

He says his wife couldn’t be more proud — though no-one has seen her in a while.

He’s deeply committed to improving his pupils and well aware which ones need improving.

And all he wants is for his colleagues — and the endlessly interfering parents — to stay out of his way.

Oddly, not everyone agrees Teddy has their best interests at heart, but will that change when someone receives a lesson to die for?

The Night She Disappeared, by Lisa Jewell

A cold case. An abandoned mansion. A family hiding a terrible secret.

Prepare to be hooked as Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller is her best yet.

It is Midsummer 2017 and teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim.

At 11pm, she sends her mum a text message and at 4.30am Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home.

Friends tell her Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place.

Tallulah never returns.

It’s 2018, and walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence.

Then she sees a sign that says: DIG HERE.

Not a Happy Family, by Shari Lapena

Every family has its secrets.

Fred and Sheila Mercer have worked hard their whole lives, and it’s paid off.

They have a beautiful house in their dream neighbourhood and their three adult children have always had everything they could have wished for.

The family has had it good.

But now, after a family dinner, the Mercers are dead. Murdered.

Their children are devastated, aren’t they?

Even as they are set to inherit millions.

Surely a stranger is responsible and not one of them... This family’s secrets are deadly.

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