Review: Karen Watkins
Cybercrime lurks in the dark corners of our everyday lives. From identity theft and credit card skimming to hacking CCTV footage and retrieving personal and potentially damaging information from cellphones. Added to this is a fairly new type of addiction – that of video gaming. As a fan of Constantia author Peter Church’s thrilling Dark Video (2008), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his latest offering.
The story begins at a Sea Point gym, with Daniel le Fleur’s trainers stuck in the treadmill mat. He has been mugged and his left arm is in a cast.
Later, at his luxurious Bantry Bay apartment, his doorbell rings. It is Carla Vitale. This slim, tanned, young, sexy woman is head of Supertech, Africa’s leading independent engineering company. She has one thing on her min: to find her friend, Nial Townley who disappeared after his luxury vehicle was found wedged between boulders off Chapman’s Peak Drive. But what makes his dsappearance even more interesting is that $20m has vanished from Supertech’s overseas accounts, and there is a R5 million finder’s fee.
The story then takes us into a world of financial cyber-criminals.
While Church’s publishers have advised him to use Americanisms to make his story more accessible to an international market, the settings are local and familiar, as are some of the restaurants, music and artworks enjoyed by Le Fleur, and I found myself googling them. Added to the mix are steamy sex scenes, murder, revenge and a fantastic car chase through the Atlantic Seaboard.
However, I feel the characters could have been fleshed out more, from the computer nerds to a criminal who gets out of jail and goes on the rampage.
The story plods along painfully but is a worthwhile read.
Crackerjack is the third in Church’s Dark Video trilogy and is preceded by Bitter Pill (2011) and Blue Cow Sky (2015). He has also witten a novella published by Two Dogs.
A nice touch is the book’s interactive link, www.catalystpress.org/crackerjack-interactive/#link1, which helps the reader explore characters, locations, commentaries and music tied to the book.
Crackerjack is a good read, but not a great one. If you are into cybercrime and slow-motion thrillers then go for it.