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“Bloody Harvest ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 19/10/2006

Bloody Harvest
Richard Kunzmann
Dunne, December 2006, $23.95, 464 pp.
ISBN 0312366339

In South Africa, even in the most modern of cities, practitioners of magic hold sway over the population. The ones who work for the benefit of their client are revered, but there are some like the Albino that use the dark powers of the spirits to achieve their own ends. The Albino has built up an empire based on heroin and human smuggling, and he performs mudi (organ) murders so he can harvest human organs for his spellcraft.

When a black child's body is found in a ditch, it is easy to see it is a mudi murder because the heart is missing. Detectives Harry Morgan and Jacob Tshabalala are assigned the case. While Harry uses tried and true police methods, Jacob believes in the magic of his people. A major heroin bust disrupts the Albino's empire, causing him to commit crime against those that betrayed him. The Albino's empire is linked to the little girl's murder, so it is inevitable that he will cross paths with Harry and the police many times. The case is broken wide open by a British reporter who identifies the top guns in the criminal empire. Harry begins to realize there is more to the world of spirits than he ever knew.

The exotic locale and the supernatural beliefs of many people living in South Africa will give armchair travelers a thrill. It is fascinating to watch the metamorphosis of Harry from non-believer to believer. Both Harry and Jacob are well developed characters, with demons they have to exorcise if they want to live normal lives. Richard Kunzmann's debut novel is a smash hit.

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