Sunday, June 29, 2014
LIKE CLOCKWORK: A CLARE HART THRILLER by MARGIE ORFORD
I had never read a Clare Hart thriller before, and frankly I may never read another. This ebook scared the heck out of me. Hart is a profiler and documentary film maker in Cape Town, South Africa. Her project in this story is human trafficking; bringing girls from countries north of South Africa to supply the sex trade in Cape Town. She and her former lover Captain Riedwaan Faizal investigate the murder of teenage girls whose bodies are left obscenely posed in public places in the city after having been tortured.
Hart also has a twin who was gang raped and tortured 20 years earlier. Since then she has lived in isolation under the protection of another of Hart's former lovers, a priest. Constance Hart has never recovered emotionally and is continually worried about Clare. She sends her tarot cards when she feels strongly about Clare's life. There is also a third sister, Julia, who has a husband and two daughters, and blessedly a normal family life. When Hart visited Julia, it provided not only a break for her but also for me.
The Prologue gives a glimpse of what the kidnapped girls go through, and that sets the stage for the rest of the book during which the reader is constantly expecting more of the same, or worse. Every time Hart goes out for a run or an interview the reader is on tenterhooks until she is safe at home or with the police. The evil men seemingly lead ordinary lives but with the sex trade as a common vice.
Apparently this vice is legal in Cape Town and it is only when dead bodies are found that anyone believes there is something wrong. With so many men involved and such a permissive society it's difficult to figure out who the killer is. The mystery that kept me going in fact was to discover the identity of the murderer and hopefully see the woman haters among the bad guys get their comeuppance.
The female characters are necessarily victims except for Clare Hart, one police officer, and two women who help victims. Of them we only get to know Hart, her strengths, and her weaknesses. She is a fully formed character though whose strengths are not overdone; she's human and I appreciated that in the face of the horrid nature of the story.
Recommended only for the very strong stomach
Source: Witness/Impulse Imprint, Harper/Collins