Monday 15 October 2018



Why would a mathematics professor from Cambridge University, renting a holiday home outside Cape Town, require a false identity and three bodyguards? And where is he, now that they are dead? The only clue to the bodyguards' murder is the snake engraved on the shell casings of the bullets that killed them. 

Investigating the massacre, Benny Griessel and his team find themselves being drawn into an international conspiracy with shocking implications. It seems it is not just the terrorists and criminals of Britain and South Africa who may fear the Professor's work, but the politicians too. 

As the body count begins to spiral viciously, Benny must put his new-found love life aside and focus on finding the one person who could give him a break in the case: a teenage pickpocket on the run in the city. But Benny is not the only person hunting for Tyrone Kleinbooi... 

Relentlessly suspenseful, topical, hard-hitting and richly rewarding, Cobra is a superb novel from an author who is acclaimed around the world as a brilliant voice in crime fiction. 

Another audio book from my library and nearly thirteen hours invested in listening to this one. Time well spent in my opinion, as I enjoyed the narration in addition to being sucked into the mystery at the heart of this.

It starts quite slowly with the minute forensic examination of a murder scene where three bodyguards have been executed and their charge, an English professor has gone missing. The professor had been developing a financial algorithm which could enable the banks to track dirty money. However the banks and politicians were somewhat reluctant to put this technology to use, fearing embarrassment at the exposure of some malfeasance on their behalf. Our professor, not easily cowed pressed on with his work and thus made himself a target.

There's a few different strands to the book and I enjoyed all of them. There's the investigation, a slow unpicking of the facts, a reluctance of the British authorities to divulge too much information about our missing professor but a keen interest in wanting to know what the investigative team have uncovered. With the cops themselves there's a main focus on Benny Griessel, an alcoholic detective and a relic of the old SA police force. We have Griessel's struggle to maintain sobriety while juggling his work around a new found love. A relationship fraught with danger as his partner is also a recovering alcoholic. We also have the team around Griessel, his bosses and fellow officers each with their own skills and boundaries. There's also a seemingly separate story line running through the book concerning a young pickpocket who steals in order to support his sister through university.

Murder, kidnapping, financial corruption, British intelligence, South African security services, political interference in the investigation, alcoholism, love, a pick-pocket and his family, a team of assassins, more death, a memory card, an opportunity, a game of cat and mouse, an outcome.

I really enjoyed all of it. There's the topical nature of financial corruption, there's a look at South Africa post-Apartheid, there's a few personal stories running in tandem with an investigation into murder. There's also an element of danger throughout and the story of an underdog presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I liked the setting, I enjoyed reading about the characters and the minutiae of their lives. There's a reasonable pace, after a slow-ish start, which I didn't mind, with a steady increase in urgency and a big build up of tension towards the inevitable climax, which didn't disappoint.

I think the only downside with audio is that I'm sketchy on details regarding names when trying to pen a few thoughts (as much for my own benefit when looking back as for anyone else). 

4.5 from 5 (probably a 5 from 5 if I'd read a physical copy as opposed to listening via audio)

Deon Meyer has written eleven novels in total including five in his Benny Griessel series, of which Cobra is the fourth. I've previously read Trackers, Blood Safari and Heart of the Hunter.

Read in October, 2018 (ok listened to)
Published - 2012
Page count - 344 pages (12 hours 45 minutes listening time)
Source - purchased copy probably when on a free trial with Audible
Format - audio - listened to on laptop


  1. I think Meyer is one of the top thriller writers around, Col. And there's a really solid sense of South Africa in what he writes. Glad you enjoyed this one as well as you did.

    1. Margot, I have enjoyed all the books I've read from him so far and still have a few more to go. They certainly do give the reader a feel for modern South Africa.

  2. I have one of his earlier books on the shelf -- Heart of the Hunter, I think -- and keep meaning to get to it. It looks really interesting, as does this one.

    1. I do like his work, though with a five year gap between reading his books, you might beg to differ. A couple of other SA crime fiction authors I rate are Mike Nicol and Roger Smith - might be worth a look at them also.

  3. I keep meaning to read something by Meyer - this sounds good!

    1. I really think you should give him a go Moira. There's lots to choose from.

  4. I have read one of his books... the first one ... Dead Before Dying. I have more of them, I do need to read Blood Safari and find the first Benny Griessel book.

    I have never wanted to try audio, and I am sure I would have problems with details. I have a hard enough time reading in print, where I can go back and check things out.

    1. I don't think audio is the way forward for me. It must have taken over 15 hours to listen to with the amount of rewinding and resetting I was having to do.