Thursday, 12 May 2016

Recipes for Love and Murder - Sally Andrew

Paperback read between 4 and 10 May 2016


I have a confession - I don't read enough South African fiction.

 After reading this novel, I realized that I can't call myself "proudly South African" AT ALL. I love my country, but I am not always
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proud of my country. But I will never be a Peter and say "I do not know you". I would rather be like a real prim and proper Afrikaans "poppie" and just keep quite and sit in the corner. And then someone like Tannie Maria comes along and she reminds you of a couple of things: 
  • I love being Afrikaans
  • I love the Klein Karoo
  • I love koeksisters, bobotie, melktert, vetkoek and karringmelk beskuit
  • I love vetplantjies
  • I love the smell of the first rain on the warm dry earth
  • I love SPAR (although I might check out the managers with an eagle eye hence forth)
  • I love being white, but have a black friend that I can honestly call one of my 5 best friends ever. 
  • I love reading a South African murder mystery that has nothing to do with politics or apartheid or South African history (Die Groot Trek OR The Soweto uprisings) 

Meet Tannie Maria: "She's fifty-something, short and soft (like me!) with brown curls and untidy Afrikaans. She is also the agony aunt (the "dear Abby" Tannie) for the local paper, the Klein Karoo Gazette. One day, her life takes a sinister turn when a woman in the area is murdered and she becomes entangled in the investigation - to the intense irritation of a handsome local policeman."

She is also the best cook I have ever heard of. She has a recipe for just about everything under the sun - even murder.


RECIPE FOR MURDER

1 stocky man who abuses his wife
1 small tender wife
1 medium-sized woman in love with the wife
1 double-barrelled shotgun
1 small Karoo town marinated in secrets
3 bottles of Klipdrift brandy
3 little ducks
1 bottle of pomegranate juice
1 handful of chili peppers
1 mild gardener
1 fire poker
1 red-hot New Yorker
7 Seventh-day Adventists (prepared for The End of the World)
1 hard-boiled investigative journalist
1 soft amateur detective
2 cool policemen
1 lamb
1 handful of red herrings and suspects mixed together
Pinch of greed



Tannie Maria maneuvered her short and soft body very easily into my list of top ten favorite fictional characters of all time. I struggled to picture the brown curls in my mind's eye, but I could hear her voice clearly. There is lady in our book club (the one with wine and good food, not the cyber one) who I imagine Tannie Maria's voice must sound like. Actually, I think there are a couple of similarities. With both of them, it's a matter of what you see is what you get, and that makes them (to quote Detective Kannemeyer): "Lovely". Both of them have a heart like a minibus taxi (there is always place for one more), they can 'hear' that what is not spoken and they know how to laugh. Lekker en uitbundig!

 Although this novel is written in English, it 'reads' very Afrikaans. It is most definitely due to Tannie Maria's heritage: 

My mother was Afrikaans and my father was English and the languages are mixed up inside me. I taste in Afrikaans and argue in English, but if I swear I go back to Afrikaans again. (Afrikaans really does have the best swear words.)

Alongside Tannie Maria, there are a number of notable characters:


  • Constable Piet Witbooi - I am quite certain this Boesman can track a kakkerlak  
  • Hattie - we all need a friend with poor driving skills, but immaculate dress sense 
  • Jessie - The hard-boiled investigative journalist with the gecko tattoos and a love for koeksisters and bobotie
  • Detective Henk Kannemeyer - With his beeswax mustache and chestnut chest hair, he really was very very handsome. 
  • Karel - a mechanic who needs advice on how to "tune" a girl he likes.

"When the movie got sad, she started shaking like an engine that needed tuning. I put my arm around her and at first she shuddered like her starter motor was faulty, but soon she was purring along nicely."



Alexander McCall Smith gave high praise to this book. "If you want a vivid, amusing and immensely enjoyable read about detection (and cooking) in an intriguing part of southern Africa, then this is the book for you. A triumph"

I couldn't agree more. If you don't want to read the book - buy, borrow or steal it anyway. The recipes at the back are to die for! All the Tannie Maria recipes are beyond delicious.


"We can be sure that our lives will all end with death. There's not much we can do about that. But you can add love and good food to your life."









3 comments:

  1. This sounds like a wonderful book. I would love to read it. Jy bly maar oulik, Poplap!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why did you delete my comment?

    ReplyDelete

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