My first blog-tour with #TeamOrenda and how excited am I to see my name up in lights on the lovely tour poster (see below)
Reconciliation for the Dead is the latest release from Paul E. Hardisty, the third in the Claymore Straker series. Recently published by Orenda Books, here is a book that will open your eyes to the absolute horror and atrocity that took place in South Africa’s recent history.
Please continue to read for my voluntary and very honest thoughts of this incredible yet devastating book.
Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.
It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make.
Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.
Having read neither of the previous books in this series I expected to be in trouble with some of the backstory, but from the outset I just want to let you all know that this is not the case. Reconciliation for the Dead is a prequel which goes back to an earlier part of the life of Claymore Straker and introduces us to the circumstances that made him the man he became.
Described as a novel ‘exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller’ Now while all this is so very true I would go so far as saying that this description nearly undersells the novel.
There are scenes on the pages of this book that will rip your heart out. There are very vivid portrayals of torture and violence. There are terrible and heartbreaking stories of families fighting, and not always succeeding, to survive. While the character of Claymore Straker is imagined, the history is real.
South Africa in the 1980’s was a country ripped apart by hatred and greed. There were many evil men in positions of power trading their country’s most precious commodities for financial gain. Both the human cost and the impact of their deeds on nature would have an affect on generations to come.
Paul E Hardisty explores these facts using a fictional protagonist against a backdrop that displays humanity at it’s worst.
Claymore Straker has returned to South Africa ready to tell the truth of what he witnessed in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Having been discharged from the army fifteen years earlier, his reputation is somewhat tarnished. He has been in exile from his home country and now wishes to testify and reveal all that he knows.
Intermittently scattered throughout the novel is the dialogue he has with the Commission as he tells his story.
Clay was a young paratrooper, a native white South African, prepared to fight with his country against what was believed to be a communist ideology that was infiltrating the hearts and minds of many. While fighting in Angola, Clay bears witness to an event that has a catastrophic affect on his life.
Clay soon discovers there are multiple layers of deceit and animosity among his colleagues. His working relationship with his superiors becomes muddled as he attempts to work out where his loyalties lie.
The sense of place is just phenomenal in Hardisty’s writing. I felt the blistering heat of the African landscape as Clay moves across the country in search of the truth. The intensity of the danger Clay is constantly in is palpable off the pages.
Hardisty has written a very strong book with a narrative that will blow you away. His attention to facts and details is superb with an excellent ‘Historical Note’ at the back of the book explaining further the findings of the Commission.
I picked up Reconciliation for The Dead with a very open mind as to what to expect. I have to be honest and admit I was expecting ‘Jack Reacher’ but that is not what I found. Claymore Straker is a man caught up in a time and place. Trapped between upholding his army oath and doing the honourable thing, Clay is a fascinating character. His confusion at what he witnesses and how he deals with it shows a strength beyond his years.
Reconciliation for The Dead is a novel for all to read. The historical truth is mixed in with one man’s struggle to do right. There is the thriller aspect mixed in with the horrors that society seems determined to repeat in countries across the globe today.
A riveting and provocative novel dealing with the heinous crime of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ with an exceptional narrative and and some very harsh truths.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Paul E Hardisty which speaks for itself ~
‘We are all the same’
Purchase Link ~ Reconciliation for the Dead
About the author:
Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa.
He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war.
Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.
You can find out more at http://orendabooks.co.uk/paul-e-hardisty/
Purchase Link ~ The Abrupt Physics of Dying (Book 1)
Purchase Link ~ The Evolution of Fear (Book 2)
Purchase Link ~ Reconciliation for the Dead (Prequel Book 3)