Jean-Jacques Cornish

Contemporary thriller from a writer who has done his homework

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“Prooi,” by Deon Meyer

It is not hard to see how Meyer has become the most popular writer in Afrikaans.

This very contemporary page-turner will thrill his fans in his huistaal and doubtless earn him many more followers in English and the other languages he is translated into.

This the second book of Meyer’s that I have read and Afrikaans and by far my favorite.

I am sure the Afkrikaanse Taal en Cultuur Vereniging, if they still exist, will have something disparaging to say about the amount of English that appears in the Afrikaans edition. Ma dis die way Vaughn Cupido, Bennie Griessel se vertroude sidekick praat.

The book juxtaposes two stories: Griessel and Cupido investigating the murder of a private eye, formerly a member of the police VIP protection unit who was thrown off the luxury Rovos Rail between Cape Town and Pretoria; and the bid to draw an exiled former liberation fighter Tobel Mpayipheli back into the fray. 

This technique can so easily become complex and annoying.

Meyer handles it well by initially changing between the two stories every few chapters and then decreasing the wait until approaching the denouement he switches between the two after a few paragraphs.

Meyer never names the president captured by three Indian billionaires. He doesn’t have to.

The suspense is maintained until quite literally the last page.

It is underpinned by some thorough and masterful research that includes taking  a trip on the luxury train. Tough work, but someone has to do it.

I particularly enjoy his descriptions of Bordeaux.

Character development of Mpayipheli, nom du guerre Umzimzingeli who seeks  a quiet life as French documented Daniel Darret, is particularly endearing.

We can only hope the corruption and state capture he writes about is something of the past.

If he is not, we must pray there are dedicated law enforcement professionals like Griessel and Cupido to counter it. 2019-06-01 


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.