Sunday, February 28, 2021

WAKE UP DEAD by Roger Smith

This author is known for being uncompromising when it comes to violence and brutality, but this book is Smith at his most savage. As usual, his Cape Town is a Grand Guignol stage of crime and violence, and this time, he focuses on a relatively simple but tragic carjacking, and the large cast of characters that all connect around this crime, including an American model, a failed cop, rival gangbangers, a violent psychopath that only wants to reunite with his prison wife, and a young boy who only wants to celebrate his birthday. 

This book isn’t for the faint of heart or people who are turned off by graphic violence. It really rides the line of being gratuitous but it rings much more sincere than that because of how aware Smith is of his characters and their desires. The cast really sings here, as Smith efficiently illustrates who they are and what makes them tick. This book would simply just be an example of violence porn if it wasn’t for how well-drawn and complex of a hero Billy Africa was, or how great of a villain the monstrous Piper was. That’s one of Roger Smith’s strengths as a writer, the way he can somehow take despicable characters and make them irresistible to read about.