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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Seven Days

Deon Meyer

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To purchase Seven Days

Title: Seven Days
Author: Deon Meyer
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011 (Eng. 2012)
Length: 370 pages
Original in: Afrikaans
Availability: Seven Days - US
Seven Days - UK
Seven Days - Canada
Seven Days - India
7 Jours - France
Sieben Tage - Deutschland
  • Afrikaans title: 7 Dae
  • Translated by K.L.Seegers

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Our Assessment:

B+ : straightforward but, as usual, very nicely done

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 14/11/2012 Barry Forshaw
Publishers Weekly . 23/7/2012 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Briefer and more accelerando than usual, this is a Meyer novel with far less hefty dramatis personae than usual. But there is no gainsaying the sheer momentum of the storytelling." - Barry Forshaw, The Independent

  • "Superior prose and characterization enable Meyer to make the most of a familiar plot device" - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Seven Days is basically a police procedural with a countdown, as a sniper starts taking daily shots at policemen, demanding they arrest the person responsible for the murder of Hanneke Sloet, a case that officially has not been solved. The sniper aims to wound not kill, at least at first, and he certainly gets the attention of the police. Immediately, the Sloet case is reopened -- and, of course, there's a parallel manhunt for the sniper.
       The Sloet case isn't very old -- she was murdered in mid-January, and the shooter starts taking shots in late February -- but it quickly went cold. Anonymous e-mails pressing the police to arrest the person responsible -- "You know very well who murdered Hanneke Sloet" -- weren't taken seriously at first, but once the writer upped the ante by warning: "every day I will shoot a policeman, until you charge the murderer" (and began to follow through) they decide to take a long, hard look again.
       The man put on the Sloet case is Benny Griessel -- familiar from some earlier Meyer-thrillers. He's forty-five, hasn't had a drink for just over seven months, and in the beginnings of a relationship of sorts with Alexa Barnard, a singer making a comeback (with both comeback and potential relationship complicated by her own history of drinking problems). Benny is a Detective Captain in the Hawks -- the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations -- and while the Sloet case is the top priority in the coming days, he also has to deal (a bit ...) with Alexa falling off the wagon, his son wanting to get a tattoo, and his daughter's possibly questionable new boyfriend. Yes, the personal stuff feels mostly like aside-filler -- and much of it remains very much aside, since Benny kind of has his hands full with his job -- but Meyer juggles it all reasonably well.
       Hanneke Sloet had recently moved into a new apartment -- and that's where she was killed. She seems to have let her murderer in, and was killed with a single stab to the chest. She was a successful lawyer, apparently completely dedicated to her job and getting ahead. She was working on some transactions involving a lot of money -- and, as eventually becomes clear, not everyone involved in these transactions was of ... sterling character. In his e-mails, the sniper repeatedly mentions a "communist" -- but isn't clear exactly what kind, a communist party member (yes, there's still a very active communist party in South Africa), a Russian ..... And while it doesn't really look like the cover-up the sniper claims, there's the whole question of whether someone in power does have something to hide.
       Meanwhile, the daily potshots the sniper is taking also take their toll. While most of the narrative follows the investigations themselves, Meyer does occasionally assume the sniper's vantage point -- just enough to see him in action, but without giving enough information as to reveal who he is or what exactly he's really after.
       The daily ticking clock -- will he shoot someone again today ? -- makes for a constant tension, and of course means that the investigation into the Sloet killing also has to proceed in the highest gear: as good as Meyer is, he doesn't seem to be able imagine an investigation that proceeds at any sort of regular pace, he always needs the (time-)pressure to be at the highest level. And, of course, it comes to the point where Benny has to make tough choices, knowing (or at least thinking):

If it didn't work, next week he'd be doing a shop security patrol around Canal Walk with a radio on his hip.
       Ultimately, Seven Days is a fairly straightforward police procedural, with clues slowly coming together, false trails followed and then abandoned, until finally everything falls more or less neatly into place. Meyer's does almost all of this with an assured hand, making for a very solid and entertaining if a bit run-of-the-mill thriller. With good dialogue and well-sketched characters, those personal distractions that aren't too annoyingly distracting, and a colorful cast of police officials (a truly varied lot that's just a bit too large to get a comfortable handle on), Seven Days is a consistently satisfying good read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 23 August 2012

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Seven Days: Reviews: Deon Meyer: Other books by Deon Meyer under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       South African author Deon Meyer was born in 1958.

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© 2012-2021 the complete review

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