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Kat's Review of Mixed Blood by Roger Smith

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 My Rating: 5/5

This author only came to my attention after reading it as a recommended book by another author I love Sean Black. I figured that as I enjoyed the Sean Black books so much, I would take his recommendation up and give the new author Roger Smith a go.

As I had brought this book on my Kindle, by the time I got around to reading it I had no idea what the book was about so just started to read. The first thing that is noticeable with this book is there is no `typical' hero copper who has an attitude towards authority and in its place we meet the Burns family. Jack Burns is on the run after getting himself into a sticky situation in the US. He, his wife Susan and son Matt are now living in South Africa and Susan is expecting her second child.

Very early on a random act of violence in the form of a gangland-style break in is the catalyst for the whole story. It was clear to me from very early on that this book was a little different from other crime and thriller books I have been reading recently. For a start the setting wasn't in the USA or the East end of London. Seeing as the author is an author born and still living in South Africa there is no question of the realism of the setting for the book. I have never visited South Africa but after a few chapters I began to get an idea of how awful the area of the Cape Flats really is.

The Burns family are a strange bunch and early on you see that things are not rosy for this family on the run. This made the story even more intriguing for me because things started off on a bad note so as a reader you want to see the outcome. We also meet Benny Mongrel who is an ex-gangster who has turned his life around following time in prison. He is a night-watchman for the estate that the Burns live on. In addition to Benny we see the crooked policeman Rudi `Gatsby' Barnard enter the frame.

The characters in this book are real and gritty, that's the best words I can use to describe them. There is also no shortage of violence in this book as we see many murders happen. As the story progresses various events put all three men on the same path and as their lives cross the tension picks up in a serious way. The danger level is high and the further into the book I got the more I just had to keep reading.

As I finished the book I realised a few things. Firstly, the book is totally original and refreshing to read. There is a new author on the scene; that has produced a debut novel that feels like he has been writing for years. Secondly, I knew next to nothing about South Africa. This book actually made me do a web search on the Cape Flats to find out more about the place. I am so pleased that I read this book and am now eagerly looking forward to the next one. I an also see the huge appeal in turning this into a film. Whether that will work or not is another matter!

Roger Smith is certainly coming into the book world with a bang; I am just surprised that I haven't heard more about him until now. If you want something a little different and original, then give him a try. Just be warned that it is violent and gruesome in certain places. Highly recommended by me! This review will also appear on the website best crime books...

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