As Icarus begins, the sobriety of Captain Benny Griessel, who has appeared in four previous South African thrillers by Deon Meyer (Blood Safari; Cobra), is threatened by a series of dreadful events in the hot weather leading up to Christmas.

A former colleague has killed himself and his family, sending Benny off on a bender right as the body of Ernst Richter has washed up on the South African shore. Richter was the young and high-profile founder of Alibi, a website that provides apparently legitimate alibis for cheating spouses. Many people are unsurprised that Richter is dead; he had been missing for weeks, and before that had received threats from those who thought his business unprincipled. What does surprise the Priority Crime unit ("the Hawks") is Richter's connection to a family winery with a strange history. Now Benny has to try to sober up fast enough to help the Hawks unravel mysteries surrounding the burgeoning South African wine and technology industries, and find Richter's killer.

With rapid pacing, likable characters and occasional Afrikaans phrases, Icarus works well as a stand-alone novel. Benny's desperate and futile efforts to conquer his addiction, the Hawks' attempts to beat hackers at their techie games and the ever-present awareness of South Africa's complicated past make Icarus irresistible. The similarity of the fictional Alibi situation to the AshleyMadison.com scandal in real life lends added depth to a complex thriller. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Powered by: Xtenit