Human & Rousseau
Review: Simonéh De Bruin-Fortuin
Two crimes. Countless secrets. And more questions than answers. Irma Venter’s second novel to be translated into English, Blue Sunday, moves at a rapid-fire pace.
The suspense is kept going by a date and time line for every chapter as we follow Captain Averil Joan (AJ) Venter’s investigation into the assault of failed businessman and retired adventurer Lafras van Zyl and the disappearance of his wife Katerien and their children Willem and Cath from their luxury estate home in Pretoria on Christmas Eve.
After six weeks there are still no clues and the intensely focused AJ, who has the quirky habit of often forgetting to put in one of her coloured contact lenses, giving her an unsettling blue/ brown gaze, has been summoned to solve the case, ASAP.
AJ and crime scene investigator, Sergeant Farradien “Farr” Josephs, make a formidable team, painstakingly mulling over every clue, every scrap of evidence, to piece together the oddly-shaped yet interlocking pieces of this puzzle.
At the same time journalist Alex Derksen and photographer Ranna Abrahamson are on the trail of 17-year-old strip club dancer Martina Buitendag, who went missing, only leaving behind a suitcase with R20 000 stuffed into the lining and a handful of family pictures.
Venter weaves a tight plot with a gritty storyline that exposes a human trafficking syndicate and looks at the unsettling subject of paedophilia.
Her characters, each with their own backstory thundering to be told, are believable and likeable because they are so relatably flawed.
Blue Sunday is preceded by Circus, the first of Venter’s series to be translated into English. Each book is a stand-alone novel though with the series sharing a character cast, with a different character becoming the central storyline in each book.
Venter is an award-winning journalist who has won an Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV) award in 2012 for the suspense novel Skoenlapper.
Subsequent best-selling novels from her pen include Skrapnel (2013), Sondebok (2014), Skarlaken (2015) and Sirkus (2017) and acclaimed author Deon Meyer has described Venter as “world-class” – a plaudit that’s totally deserved in my book.