IN ALL MY SAD DREAMING – John Caulfield

Liz Masten graciously provides a review of a book set in South Africa, a country of which I know too little.

The tourist brochures show Cape Town in the summer, when the sky is a radiant blue. They do not show the city in the grey winter- they do not show the Cape of Storms.

It is winter when this story takes place. This is a mystery set in Cape Town, South Africa during a violent modern era.  a time when most houses have burglar bars on the windows and security gates on the front doors. Captain James Black is a member of the Police Service and part of the Serious Violence Unit. He is just leaving the hospital after having been there for a considerable time suffering from two gun shot wounds.

Blake is still hoping to understand what has happened to him when he is called to the scene of a murder that his partner thinks he should see despite his poor condition.

The victim is a wealthy lawyer who was once a member of a rock band of four young men who had moderate success years before but who had gone on to other endeavors and had not seen much of each other in recent years. There was one attempt at regrouping but this was stopped in its tracks when another member of this rock band died in a freak skydiving accident about a year before.  The most suspicious circumstance in the dead lawyer’s life centers on his young beautiful Thai mail order bride who seemingly hates him and who has already one dead husband to her credit.

Meanwhile,  Captain Blake gets an anonymous letter blaming the wife of the skydiving victim for the death by some trick, which doesn’t seem possible since the event was videotaped. But Blake is getting some weird vibes and even Blake’s partner,  Sgt. Mkhize, wants to consult his witch doctor.  Some how Blake can’t seem to get a grip on things.  There are two other members of the musical group that he has yet to track down but in a country where you can be killed for your shoes, or for a cigarette, six million dollars is certainly a good motive for murder so the lovely greedy Thai wife with an airtight alibi is still in the mix.

As Captain Blake visits the suburbs of Cape Town tracking down people, he remembers his youth and an eerie sense of nostalgia comes over him.

“Like so many of us,” he tells himself, “I have a strong desire to escape this violent, decaying country.”

But a part of him will always regard the city of dreams as his home. Thus,  on he goes attempting to solve this confusing mystery. The story is filled with musical references that go back to the ‘70’s. The prose itself is musical in many ways. There is a tone of foreboding overlying IN ALL MY SAD DREAMING  that reminds one of Alan Paton. It seems that Captain James Blake is most of all trying to make sense of his life.

John Caulfield was born in Cape Town, South Africa, grew up there and completed his schooling at the University of Cape Town where he obtained an English degree and a post graduate degree in Law. In 1989, he was admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa and some years later joined the Department of Justice. He now lives in the United Kingdom, where he has written two crime novels. His first Novel The Atom Heart Murders won the first prize in the 2006 UK writers’ forum

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One Response to IN ALL MY SAD DREAMING – John Caulfield

  1. Pingback: AUTHORS A – D ( A Good Place To Start) | MURDER by TYPE

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