Who’s who of SA crime fiction
This who’s who of South African crime fiction features novels by writers working in English or translated into English who set their novels in southern Africa. Under the broad category of crime fiction, I have included a number of adventure writers – Wilbur Smith, Geoffrey Jenkins, Alan Scholefield, Siegfried Stander, Jon Burmeister, Tony Park – although not all their book titles. The southern African setting and the thriller label have brought a few writers who don’t live locally onto the list. Not on the list are three writers of psychological thrillers –Amy Heydenrych, Gail Schimmel (who also co-writes with Kate Sidley) who set their novels elsewhere.
Afrikaans crime fiction flourishes with a number of writers producing new works regularly (among them Riana Mouton, Quintus van der Merwe, Bettina Wyngaard, Martin Steyn, and Piet Steyn). Mostly their work is not translated into English, where it is the writers are listed below. In Zulu, Meshack Masondo was well published and wrote a long list of crime novels. A short story of his in English can be found in the anthology Bad Company, as is one by Dirk Jordaan.
This list includes writers who are published by conventional publishing houses and those who have self-published.
THE WRITERS A – Z
A well-known Afrikaans writer, Adriaanse has published both romantic and crime fiction novels, some of which have been translated into English. She lives in Durbanville, Cape Town and is published by Tafelberg.
Novels: Blindside (2019), End Game (2019)
Lives in Cape Town and has self-published a range of titles featuring a cop called Matt Porter. His novel Garage Band is set in Sandton and available on Amazon.
Novel: Garage Band (2018)
A writer in the Kwela stable with a high public profile. The publisher and the author felt that this might distract from the book’s political message.
Novel: One Man (2014)
A Johannesburg journalist, Bite of the Banshee was Andersson’s debut fiction venture although she had written an account of popular South African music, Music in the Mix (1981).
Novel: Bite of the Banshee (2002)
A former environmental activist, she lives in a mud-brick house on a nature reserve in the Klein Karoo. Andrew plans a series with her character, Tannie Maria. She is published by Penguin. The setting: the Karoo.
Novels: Recipes for Love and Murder (2015); Tannie Maria & the Satanic Mechanic (2016); Death on the Limpopo (2019)
For many years Annas lived in South Africa before returning to Berlin where he now lives and writes full time. His two South African novels – originally published in German – have been translated into English and are available from Catalyst Press. The setting: Eastern Cape.
Novels: The Wall (2019); The Farm (2020)
The proud human ‘pet’ of three cats, Francois Bloemhof is the author of more than 40 Afrikaans books for adults, teenagers and young readers. He has won several prizes for his work. Bloemhof lives with his cats in Durbanville, Cape Town. Some of his books have been translated into English. One such is published by Penguin.
Novel: Double Echo (2017)
Lives in Pretoria and self-published his novel which is set mostly in South Africa. It can be found on Amazon.
Novel: The List (2017)
Veteran journalist better known as Nachema Brodie. According to her website she lives in Johannesburg with her sons, a magnificent cat and an over-enthusiastic dog. Her foray into crime fiction began in 2018 with Pan Macmillan. Her series characters are Captain Reshma Patel and former cop, Ian Jack. The setting: Johannesburg.
Novels: Knucklebone (2018); Three Bodies (2020)
Winner of the prestigious 2006 Sunday Times Literary Award. Brown’s novel could probably best be described as straddling two genres, as it is characterised by some lyrical ‘literary’ writing but also features a cop battling his demons. Andrew Brown, an advocate, lives in Cape Town. In August 2008 he published a non-fiction crime work, Street Blues: The Experiences of a Reluctant Policeman about his time as a police reservist. He updated this with Good Cop, Bad Cop in 2018. In 2014 he published a thriller set in South Sudan and the UK, Devil’s Harvest. He is published by Zebra Press, an imprint of PenguinRandomHouse.
Novels: Coldsleep Lullaby (2005), Refuge (2010), Solace (2012); Devil’s Harvest (2014)
Winner of many awards including a Via Afrika Literary Award and the 2010 M-Net Prize for her novel, Plaasmoord, Brynard has a reputation as an astute political journalist. She works on a freelance basis and lives in Stellenbosch. Her books are translated into English. Plaasmoord appeared as Weeping Waters in 2014. Brynard writes police procedurals with Captain Albertus Beeslaar as her main character. Published by Penguin. Her novels are set in the Karoo, Northern Cape and Stellenbosch.
Novels: Weeping Waters (2014), Our Fathers (2016); Homeland (2018)
One of the Eastern Cape’s most successful writers, Burmeister produced more than a dozen high adventure thrillers from The Edge of the Sky (1968) to The Plekhanov Original (1989). His novel Running Scared was made into a movie, Tigers Don’t Cry, starring Anthony Quinn. In 2001 Burmeister died at the age of 68 in a shooting accident at his home.
Of note: Running Scared (1972)
A Cape Town resident, Carstens created his own publishing house to launch his (and South Africa’s) first crime graphic novel. It was self-published.
Novel: Project H (2009)
After two decades in the IT industry, Church took time out to write a book. He set it in his home town, Cape Town, and at his old alma mater, UCT. Church has had a nunber of publishers, most recently he was reissued by Catalyst Press.
Novel: Dark Video (2008), Bitter Pill (2011); Crackerjack (2019)
When she isn’t writing crime thrillers, Coetzee works as a deputy headmistress. She grew up in Bedford, England, and now lives in Rustenburg with her husband and son. Her previous titles featuring the detective Harry O’Conner aka Badger are Bad Blood, Redemption Song and Flaming June. One Shot sees her character in a South African setting for the first time. Published by Pan Macmillan.
Novel: One Shot (2014)
Once upon a time from Cape Town, for many years she’s lived in Sydney, Australia. Her first crime was part of her PhD: Present Tense: Crime Fiction in Postapartheid South Africa. She is published by Clan Destine Press. Her novel is set in Cape Town.
Novel: Present Tense (2019)
Trevor R CORBETT
A spook by profession, more exactly known as a counter-intelligence strategist for the State Security Agency, Corbett lives near Durban with his wife and two children. In good tradecraft fashion his location is not precise. He could be said to have laid the foundations of the contemporary SA espionage novel. Published by Umuzi, an imprint of PenguinRandomHouse. His novels are set in KwaZulu/Natal.
Novels: An Ordinary Day (2010), Allegiance (2012)
An award-winning New York Times journalist. He was assigned to Johannesburg in the mid-1980s and was awarded the prestigious George Polk Award for courageous reporting. The government of the day ordered him to leave in early 1987 and he was not allowed to return until the early 1990s. Since then he has been a regular visitor, most recently covering the Oscar Pistorius trial and anchoring coverage of the death of President Mandela. Published by Jacana.
Novel: Permanent Removal (2016)
Journalist and author, living in London. His first novel is an historical thriller set in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Published as an e-book by Canelo.
Novel: No Ordinary Killing (2018).
A Johannesburg denizen with a considerable reputation as a defamation and media lawyer. On behalf of the Weekly Mail, Dison fought numerous anti-censorship cases during the 1980s and represented detainees at the Delmas Treason Trial. His novels are published by Jacana.
Novel: Death in the New Republic (2007); The Good Nigerian (2021)
Beyers DE VOS
Journalist and writer Beyers de Vos is prose editor for the literary journal New Contrast. He lives and works in Cape Town, and is published by Penguin.
Novel: Talion (2018)
A veteran of the crime scene, June Drummond garnered an international reputation for her crime novels over four decades. Although many of her novels were set in Britain, a number dealt with the local scene and cast a jaundiced eye on the apartheid state. Only these are listed. She died in Durban in June 2011.
Novels: The Black Unicorn (1959), Welcome, Proud Lady (1964), Farewell Party (1971), Slowly the Poison (1975), The Patriots (1979), I Saw Him Die (1979), Junta (1989), Hidden Agenda (1993), Old Bones Buried Under (2007)
Currently a cabinet minister in Botswana, before that a judge. She is published by Spinifex.
Novels: The Screaming of the Innocent (2002); The Heavens May Fall (2008)
Wessel Ebersohn made a considerable impact when his crime novels were launched onto the local scene in the early 1980s, introducing a character, Yudel Gordon, both eccentric and highly likeable for his dogmatic sense of moral indignation. Ebersohn is the editor and, with his wife, founder of Succeed magazine. He lives in Johannesburg. Published by Umuzi, PenguinRandomHouse. His novels are set in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Novels: A Lonely Place to Die (1979), The Centurion (1980), Store Up the Anger (1980), Divide the Night (1981), Closed Circle (1990), The October Killings (2009), Those Who Love Night (2010), The Top Prisoner of C-Max (2012)
His publisher’s biographical note says that Kurt Ellis was born in Durban but currently lives in Johannesburg with his wife and daughter. He has been a salesman, and may still be one. His novels feature former FBI agent Nick Creed, now back in South Africa. The setting of his first novel is Durban. The action moves to Johannesburg for his second novel. He is published by Penguin.
Novels: By Any Means (2014); In the Midst of Wolves (2019)
Scotty to her friends and colleagues lives in Zimbabwe having arrived there in 1977 in the middle of the civil war by way of England and Australia. She is best known for The Sibanda Series, crime and wildlife adventure novels set in the bush. She is published by Jacana Media.
Novels: Sibanda and The Rainbird (2013); Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth (2015); Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk (2017).
A nomadic freelance journalist who has decided to grow old in Cape Town with a view of the mountain, Erasmus published two novels, Kaleidoscope and Even with Insects, before turning to crime. Her latest novel, Chameleon, first appeared on Crime Beat as a blook. It was then published using ‘print on demand’ technology through Electric Book Works under the Book SA imprint.
Novel: Chameleon (2008)
In his home country, France, Férey is a much lauded and much-loved author. He travels widely in search of new settings for his crime fiction, hence a novel set in South Africa. It won the French Grand Prix for Best Crime Novel of 2008. The book is set mostly in Cape Town with excursions into other areas of the country. Published by Europa Editions.
Novel: Zulu (2008)
A well-known TV reporter in the turbulent years of the 1980s and early 1990s, Folscher now gives workshops on business writing at the London Business School. She and her family live in Oxford, UK.
Novel: Blind Faith, (2007)
A former deputy director-general of the South African Secret Service and the National Intelligence Agency, who served in the ANC underground during the 1980s, he was appointed ambassador to Syria and Lebanon in 2019, based in Damascus . His spy thriller was published by Jacana.
Novel: The List (2018)
An author of various novels and a co-author with Sarah Lotz of a number of horror novels. They write under the pseudonym, SL Grey. Greenberg lives in the United Kingdom. His thriller Dark Windows is set in Johannesburg, and was published by Umuzi.
Novel: Dark Windows (2015)
A journalist, Gilpin has worked the beat from townships to parliament and more recently was associated with the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and the Cape Town museum. She lives in Cape Town. Her series features the two characters, Marks and Lambrecht. She self-publishes on Amazon in English and German.
Novel: Double Cross (2008); Bold-Faced Lie (2014); The Slave Tree (2014); Rain of Ashes (2014)
H J GOLAKAI
Born in Liberia, political strife has moved her and her family about the continent from her home country to Togo, Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. She spends time in Cape Town, the setting for novels. She is published by Kwela.
Novels: The Lazarus Effect (2011), The Score (2015)
With a background in accounting and a job as a legal advisor to a multi-national European industrial conglomerate, it is hardly surprising that Andrew Gray’s debut novel should focus on blood diamonds. For the Pretoria author it is less about the mean streets and more about the mean corridors of corporate power. The Fence was short listed for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2008. The novel is set in Johannesburg and published by Human&Rousseau.
Novel: The Fence (2007)
Paul E HARDISTY
Lives in Australia and sets his books in various countries. His serial character is the troubled justice seeker Claymore Straker. In a prequel to his first two novels, Hardisty took Straker back to his days in 1980 in South Africa. It’s not so much a crime novel as a war thriller. He is published by Affirm Press.
Novels: Reconciliation for the Dead (2017)
A graduate of UCT’s Centre of Creative Writing, a short-story writer, a runner-up in a Sanlam competition for youth literature, and a contributor to newspapers and magazines. She compiled and edited the first ever anthology of South African crime stories, Bad Company (2009), and a follow-up anthology, Bloody Satisfied (2013). Hichens lives in Muizenberg. She self-published her third novel, Sweet Paradise. Her crime novels are to be reissued by Catalyst Press.
Novels: Out to Score (with Mike Nicol) (2006), Divine Justice (2011), Sweet Paradise (2015)
The author of a number of acclaimed novels and translations, Heyns lives in Stellenbosch. He is published by Jonathan Ball.
Novel: Lost Ground (2011)
Novelist, journalist and the power and energy behind the highly successful Franschhoek Literary Festival, this is her first crime novel and a spoof to boot.
Novel: Napoleon’s Bones (2013)
The author of a YA novel, and the organiser of a creative writing workshop. Together with her writing group, The Write Girls, she has co-authored two other novels. She lives in Cape Town. Published by Modjaji Books.
Novel: Now I See You (2014)
After many years in the corporate towers of Sandton, she combined her knowledge of this world with research into the spirit world of rural South Africa. Corporation Games is set in Sandton. She is published by Lapa Uitgewers.
Novel: Corporation Games (2019)
A life-long interest in sailing went to fuel many of the plots of Jenkins’ best-selling adventure thrillers which date from A Twist of Sand (1957) to A Daystar of Fear (1994). As a journalist he worked in Britain, South Africa and Zimbabwe and during this time formed a close relationship with Ian Fleming. After Fleming’s death he was commissioned to write a sequel to one of the James Bond books but it was rejected and is believed lost. Jenkins died in 2001 at the age 81.
Of note: A Daystar of Fear (1994)
Better known as a dramatist, short story writer, and novelist, Kalmer garnered a reputation (often misunderstood according to his fellow authors) as a thriller writer. He died in 2019. Published by Tafelberg.
Novel: Killing Afrikaners (1998)
Journalist of long standing, author of many books of South African true crime, and now a trilogy of Johannesburg novels first written in Afrikaans – Abel se ontwaking – which won the ATKV Prose Prize and Prize for a Suspense Novel in 2011. Published by Tafelberg.
Novels: The Skin Collector (2012); The Skinner’s Revenge (2013), Face-Off (2014)
A Cape Town historian turned novelist, he decided to parody a genre that teeters close to the edge of parody anyhow and whacked in with a romp of larger than life characters. More lunacy is scheduled. Published by Umuzi.
Novel: Tromp’s Last Stand (2007)
A GP in Durban, this is her third novel but her first krimi. Published by Jacana Media.
Novel: The Murder of Norman Ware (2012)
A prolific author living in Johannesburg with her husband, two daughters and two mixed breed dogs. Her books are set in Johannesburg and involve serial killers. She is published by Rebel ePublisher and self-publishes on Amazon and through the self-publishing company, Kwarts Publishers.
Novels: Tangled Weeds (2018); The Dandelion Clock (2018); The Butterfly Wind (2018); The Starlight Tide (2018); Veils of Smoke (2020)
Margaret von KLEMPERER
A Durban journalist and long-time reviewer of crime fiction, after retiring she wrote her first crime novel featuring a sleuth, Laura Marsh. Published by Jacana Media.
Novel: Just a Dead Man (2012)
According to the biog notes on his book jackets, Kunzmann has a passion for African myths and mythologies and a degree in criminology. Certainly these obsessions have filtered into his novels with muti killings playing a large part in Blood Harvests. When his first novel was published, he was working as a bookseller in London, then returned to Johannesburg, and is now back in London. His novels feature two cops, Harry Mason and Jacob Tsahbalala. Mostly set in Johannesburg. Published by Macmillan.
Novels: Bloody Harvests (2005), Salamander Cotton (2006), Dead-End Road (2008)
Lisa Lazarus and Greg Fried formed a wife and husband team to write their debut crime novel When In Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes. They live in Cape Town which is also the setting for their novel. Their psychological thriller takes its themes from their interests in psychology and philosophy. Published by Kwela.
Novel: When In Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes (2012)
Penny Lorimer has plenty of writing experience, including a YA crime novel. She lives in Cape Town. Published by Umuzi, PenguinRandomHouse
Novel: Finders Weepers (2014)
Although her first novel, Pompidou Posse, was not a crime novel, she shifted to the genre with her second novel, for want of a better description, a legal thriller. Her international thriller, The Three, appeared in 2014 and has been followed by many other novels and writing partnerships. Published by Penguin. She lives in the UK.
Novels: Exhibit A (2009), Tooth and Nailed (2010)
Known for her YA novels, Macgregor has turned her hand to a psychological thriller in the ever expanding range of SA crime novels. She lives in Johannesburg. She has sent some of her crime novels in the United States.
Novel: Dark Whispers (2014)
A contributor to a number of national and international publications on a wide variety of topics, she is a convinced Jozi fan, believing there is no better place for a thriller writer to live. Her serial character is Jade de Jong and the action takes place in Johannesburg and surrounds. The books are published by Penguin.
Novels: Random Violence (2008), My Brother’s Keeper (2009), Stolen Lives (2010), Worst Case 2011, Pale Horses (2012); Bad Seeds (2017)
A journalist who rose to prominence during the 1950s on Drum magazine, Maimane – writing under the pen name Arthur Mogale – brought a Philip Marlowe-like private investigator (O Chester Morena aka The Chief) on to the local scene. Maimane went into exile in the early 1960s. He lived in London and his career included stints at Reuters, the BBC and ITV. In 1990 he returned to South Africa but eleven years later decided that he was more at home in London. He died there in June 2005. His crime short stories published in episodes in Drum are: Crime for Sale (January, February and March 1953); Hot Diamonds (April, May, June and July 1953); You Can’t Buy Me (August, September, October, November and December 1953). They remain uncollected.
A PR consultant with her own agency, Makholwa lives in Johannesburg, which is the setting for her novels. Published by Pan Macmillan.
Novels: Red Ink (2007), Black Widows Society (2013), The Blessed Girl (2017), Critical but, Stable (2020)
A former senior advocate in Durban, Marnewick’s first book was part fiction, part fact. He went on to write two more crime thrillers. He lives in New Zealand. Published by Umuzi, PenguinRandomHouse.
Novels: Shepherds & Butchers (2008), The Soldier Who Said No (2010), A Sailor’s Honour (2011)
Journalist, broadcaster, author of two true crime books, With Criminal Intent and Famous South African Crimes, Marsh entered the crime fiction scene with a story of murder, robbery and deceit. He lives in Johannesburg.
Novels: The Serpent Under (2003), Beasts of Prey (2009)
Unless you are Zulu you’ve probably not heard of Masondo who wrote a slew of crime novels to his name, and was reported to have sold as many as 400000 copies. He was much degreed with an MA dissertation on ‘The detective novel in Zulu: Form and theme in C.T. Msimang’s Walivuma Icala’. He worked as a publishing manager with Macmillan in Johannesburg for many years. A short story, “The Love of Money”, possibly the only work of his published in English, appeared in the crime anthology, Bad Company (2008). Masondo died in Johannesburg in 2013.
Without doubt the founder of crime fiction in South Africa and its most internationally respected exponent – although Deon Meyer has ascended these heights – McClure left the country in the mid-1960s to settle in Oxford where he worked as a journalist. His Kramer and Zondi series remain essential reading for anyone interested in local crime fiction. McClure died in August 2006. His novels are kept in print by Soho Press in New York.
Novels: The Steam Pig (1971), The Caterpillar Cop (1972), The Gooseberry Fool (1974), Snake (1975), The Sunday Hangman (1977), The Blood of an Englishman (1980), The Artful Egg (1984), The Song Dog (1991)
Started his career writing plays and television scripts, went on to write a series of non-fiction books about poker and bridge, followed by some travel writing. Possibly a Brit by birth he is fascinated by things South African and has set his crime novels in that capital of crime, Cape Town.
Novels: The First Rule of Survival (2014), The Serpentine Road (2015), The History of Blood (2016); Apostle Lodge (2017)
A motorbike enthusiast with a liking for open Karoo roads, Deon Meyer’s crime fiction has included a chase thriller that featured motorbikes to great effect but he is more likely to delve into a range of criminal activities that extend from rape and serial killings, to prostitution, paedophilia and drugs. His characters are flawed but empathetic cops and the version of his home town, Cape Town, that haunts many of his novels is as alive and often as damaged as his antiheroes. His most beloved serial character is Benny Griesel.
Novels: Dead Before Dying (1999), Dead At Daybreak (2000), Heart of the Hunter (2004), Devil’s Peak (2007), Blood Safari (2008), Thirteen Hours (2010), Trackers (2011), 7 Days (2012), Cobra (2014), Icarus (2015); Fever (2017); The Woman in the Blue Cloak (2018); The Last Hunt (2019); The Dark Flood (2021)
Morris worked as a producer and writer in the film industry while living in South Africa and now lives in Portugal working as a teacher and a translator. His novel is set in Mozambique and is available as a self-published ebook from Amazon.
Novel: Bad City (2013)
Born in Umlazi, Durban, Mzobe currently works as a journalist for a community newspaper in that city. Published by Kwela.
Novel: Young Blood (2010)
Journalist and co-author of the popular Girl Goes Into… books isn’t a slave to any genre. Her venture into crime fiction is extremely funny. As the blurb has it, it’s not a whodunit, it’s a who-donut. She lives in Cape Town. The novel was published by Bookstorm.
Novel: Death by Carbs (2016)
A teacher of creative writing, journalist, author of a number of novels and works of non-fiction, he lives down the Cape peninsula in the windy Glencairn Heights. He has two series set in Cape Town with occasional forays into the Karoo and to Johannesburg. The books are published by Umuzi, PenguinRandomHouse.
Novels: Out to Score (with Joanne Hichens) (2006). The Bishop Series: The Revenge Trilogy: Payback (2008), Killer Country (2010), Black Heart (2011); Power Play (2015). The Fish and Vicki Series: Of Cops & Robbers (2013), Agents of the State (2016); Sleeper (2018), The Rabbit Hole (2021)
Nkasawe is general manager for cabinet and protocol services in the Eastern Cape. He has self-published several other books of fiction and poetry, including a crime novel.
Novel: We Need a Country (2018)
With a reputation as a director of three short films preceding her, Nunn, now living in Australia hit the international scene with her first crime novel set in 1950s South Africa and featuring the cop, Detective Emmanuel Cooper. The action for her series takes place in KwaZula. She was born in Swaziland. She is published by Simon & Schuster.
Novels: A Beautiful Place to Die (2009), Let the Dead Lie (2010), Blessed are the Dead (2012); Present Darkness (2014)
Journalist, sometime filmmaker, editor, writer of children’s fiction and books of non-fiction, Orford brought her journalist and part-time police profiler Clare Hart onto a Cape Town scene stacking up with serial killings. The second book is set largely in Namibia where Orford grew up. She lives in London.
Novels: Like Clockwork (2006), Blood Rose (2007), Daddy’s Girl (2009), Gallows Hill (2011), Water Music (2013)
Charlotte Otter lives in Germany. She is a journalist and works for the German technology company SAP. Published by Modjaji Books
Novels: Balthasar’s Gift (2014), Karkloof Blue (2016)
A L PATTERSON
From Johannesburg, Amanda Patterson, heads up the successful writing school, The Write Company, where she also teaches various courses.
Novel: I See the Moon (2003)
Tony Park is an international author who was born in the year 1964 and grew up in Sydney. Before writing, Tony Park worked as a reporter in a newspaper in England and Australia. In 1997 Tony Park left his full-time job to write books which was a big decision for him and in an interview he told that no one supported him except his wife in his decision. His first book was the African Sky, published in 2003. The book received great response from readers and he launched a career writing historical adventure, crime, and wildlife thrillers.
Novels: Far Horizon (2004), Zambezi (2005), African Sky (2006), Safari (2007), Silent Predator (2008), Ivory (2009), African Dawn (2011), Dark Heart (2012), The Prey (2013), The Hunter (2014), Red Earth (2016), Captive (2018), Scent of Fear (2018), Ghosts of the Past (2019). The Sonja Kurtz series: The Delta (2010), An Empty Coast (2015), The Cull (2017)
A stage and television actor, Patel’s novel was first published by Modjaji. It appeared in the United States in 2020 from Catalyst Press.
Novel: Outside the Lines (2015)
In her writing career that has produced a long list of books, Chanette Paul has experimented with a number of genres while writing romances to keep the pot boiling. Recently she found her true niche, romantic suspense – albeit a quirky interpretation of the genre. She lives in a cottage on the banks of the Kleine River, Stanford, near Cape Town. She is published by Catalyst Press.
Novel: Sacrificed (2017)
Margaret Penrose (pseudonym for Margaret Errington) made a brief entry into the crime scene through the UK publisher John Long but after two books put away her pen and paper. Her characters are amateur sleuths who get drawn into the fallout from dastardly deeds. She lived in Pinelands for many years and died in 2010.
Novels: Death on the File (1961), The Fatal Fifth (1963)
Born in Bloemfontein, she studied for a PhD at Ohio University. Part historical thriller, part apartheid thriller it is set in various SA towns. She was published by Melville House.
Novel: The Monster’s Daughter (2016)
A senior school librarian at St Charles College, she came to thriller fiction after a publisher told her that there was a market for such books. She lives in Pietermaritzburg. Published by Tafelberg.
Novels: The Boston Snowplough (2008), Blood at Bay (2010), Fallout (2011)
A Cape Town author of three novels, two of which are psychological thrillers. She is published by Jacana Media.
Novel: Lady Limbo (2013), Wolf Trap (2017)
Monty J ROODT
An academic at Rhodes University, he has published a crime novel on Amazon.
Novel: Dead Man’s Land (2017)
A denizen of Cape Town and a scriptwriter by profession, she won the 2011 CWA Debut Dagger for her novel. Published by Umuzi, PRH
Novels: What Hidden Lies (2013), Hour of Darkness (2015)
One of Queens College’s more illustrious students, Alan Scholefield now lives in England where he started his prolific career as a writer in 1951. He has produced over 30 thrillers, the most famous of which revolve around the activities of the British Metropolitan Police. Dirty Weekend was the first in the series of five which feature the tough uncompromising Detective Superintendent Gordon Macrae and his suave, intellectual sidekick Leopold Silver. An earlier thriller, Venom was released as a movie in 1981.
Of note: Dirty Weekend (1990)
Steven Boykey SIDLEY
The author of many novels and this one described as a literary mystery and a comedy thriller. Sidley lives in Cape Town and is published by MF Books/Jacana Media.
Novel: Leaving Word (2019)
She’s a South African by birth but has lived in the UK since 1964, and has a long list of novels to her credit, only a few of which have South African settings. In 1984 she produced the first of her Kate Baeier series, a London-based PI with Portuguese roots. In the first book, Morbid Symptoms, the political background concerns apartheid’s reach into England. She has also written two SA-based political thrillers, one of which, Red Dust, was made into a movie with the same title.
Novels: Morbid Symptoms (1984), The Betrayal (1991), Red Dust (2000)
Johan Jack SMITH
A journalist, Smith is the editor of Taalgenoot, ATKV’s corporate magazine. He lives in Johannesburg and is published by Penguin. His debut is a cop novel set in Johannesburg.
Novel: Zola (2019)
Johannesburg by birth and now settled in the crime fiction capital, Cape Town, Smith has written, produced and directed film and TV. He is published variously by Jacana Media and Tin Town.
Novel: Mixed Blood (2009), Wake Up Dead (2010), Dust Devils (2011), Capture (2012), Ishmael Toffee (2012), Sacrifices (2015), Nowhere (2016)
Winner of the prestigious British Book Life Achievement Award in 1996, Smith has always drawn on his African roots while establishing himself as a top international best-selling author. He has written over 30 novels, most of which are family sagas spread across Africa from colonial Rhodesia to the dynasties of Egypt. His novels included successful stand-alone thrillers such as Shout at the Devil (1968) and Cry Wolf (1976) which have translated well into blockbusters on the big screen. He died in November 2021.
Of note: When the Lion Feeds (1964)
A denizen of Johannesburg, Snickers is the author of the well-know Trinity series. With Now Following You she entered the world of the psychological thriller, which was published by Modjaji Books.
Novel: Now Following You (2015)
Growing up in a dorp didn’t prevent Stander from writing on a range of subjects, including political thrillers such as Into the Winter and The Fortress, which deal with tensions arising from colonialism. He is also noted for his collaborations with heart surgeon Chris Barnard which include Night Season and The Unwanted.
Of note: Flight from the Hunter (1977)
Actually the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, two retired academics – Sears a mathematician, Trollip an educational psychologist – with a love of Botswana where their Inspector Kubu novels are set. They have a new series – Dead of Night – featuring investigative journalist Crystal Nguyen.
Novel: A Carrion Death (2008), A Deadly Trade (2009), Death of the Mantis (2011), Deadly Harvest (2013), A Death in the Family (2015), Dying to Live (2017), Dead of Night (2018), Facets of Death (2020).
An Afrikaans crime writer of a number of police procedurals he is being translated into English. The first of these appeared from Lapa and from Catalyst Press in the US.
Novel: Dark Traces (2018)
An academic, she peopled her debut crime plot with academics, chiefs, corrupt businessmen, sangomas, ex-security policemen and car guards. She lives in Murdoch Valley outside Simon’s Town. Published by Jacana.
Novel: Of Wild Dogs (2005)
After his legal studies were interrupted during the turbulent 1980s, he worked as a clerk in a metal company, then as a teacher, joined the Argus cadet school but later became a client and local government liaison officer for a consultancy company. He lives in Spruitview, Ekurhuleni. Published by Kwela.
Novels: Ancient Rites (2008), Counting the Coffins (2011)
Carel VAN DER MERWE
A prize winning novelist with much critical acclaim for his first two novels, Van der Merwe has an MA in Writing from the University of Stellenbosch. He lives and works in the winelands town.
Novel: Shadow (2012)
Irna VAN ZYL
Has been a journalist for thirty years and edited Die Kat and Insig magazines. She published a collection of short stories in 1995 and is now well into a crime series set in Cape Town and environs, which has appeared in Arikaans and English.
Novels: Dead in the Water (2016), Death Cup (2018), Blood Stone (2020), One Fine Day (2021)
A well-known writer of Afrikaans thrillers, a few of which have been translated. She is a journalist, lives in Pretoria and is published by Tafelberg.
Novels: Blue Sunday (2018), Circus (2018), Hard Rain (2020)
Born in Johannesburg, now living in London, she was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger awards in 2007. Her novel is set in Johannesburg.
Novel: City of Blood (2013)
A surfing fanatic known for her romance novels which include thriller/crime elements, Volker lives in Cape Town. She is published by Karavan Press.
Novels: Shadow Flicker (2019), Fractured Land (2019)
A qualified doctor and psychiatrist, Willocks is also a successful novelist and screenwriter. Among his novels are Bad City Blues (1991)and Green River Rising (1994). He lives in the UK but decided to explore the SA crime fiction in 2018. He is published by Penguin.
Novel: Memo from Turner (2018)
The author of critically acclaimed novels, Winkler entered the realm of psychological noir with his second novel published by Kwela. He lives in Cape Town.
Novel: Wasted (2015)