Shark – Carel van der Merwe

shark the bookIt should bother all of us that many of the best South African authors ply their trade writing authorized biographies or are caught in the Struggle Era where harsh, crude imagery is obligatory.

Few seem to have realized that by far our most successful writer, Wilbur Smith, has done so by story telling. And that he has worked from a canvass where fascinating material is as plentiful as proverbial low hanging fruit.

It’s unlikely Carel van der Merwe’s Shark will travel as well as Smith’s epics. But for South Africans, and especially anyone exposed to local business, it’s a page-turner that excites, irritates and provokes thought.

The publicists were quick to point out to me that a fictional Moneyweb investigative journalist called Dick Pike plays an important part in the plot. So my interest was easily piqued. But once he’d caught the attention, Van der Merwe’s writing never let me go.

Shark immediately went top of the five books on the bedside table. It remained there before all-too-soon, the final page of 256 was reached. It consumed my every spare moment as only a really good novel can.

This book, the author’s second after the award winning No Man’s Land, is guaranteed to enthrall. From the flawed rags-to-riches hero through to callous exposure of the corrupted BEE process, Shark affects one’s thinking long after you’ve passed it on to a good friend.

shark carelAimed at the local market – released in Afrikaans as Geldwolf – the parochial approach appeals as one follows the story from Sandton mansions to the elite River Club golf course back to an orphanage in the Southern Suburbs.

It’s a pity there’s no obvious sequel. The material is rich, a seam which begs for deeper boring. There’s much more to learn about the BEE players. And one is only starting to understand the complex central character, Stephen Winter, when it all ends. Ditto other members of the supporting cast. More please Mr V.

Shark is published by Random House Struik and was released this month. My copy was gratis from a publicist, but I’d be happy to pay the R195 retail price. It will make an excellent birthday or Xmas present for any JSE-listed director – or wannabe!

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