A murder linked to the distant past.
Benny Griessel is a cop on a mission: he plans to ask Alexa Bernard to marry him. That means he needs to buy an engagement ring – and that means he needs a loan.
So Benny has a lot on his mind when he is called to a top-priority murder case. A woman’s body is discovered, naked and washed in bleach, draped on a wall beside a picturesque road above Cape Town. The identity of the victim is a mystery, as is the reason for her killing.
Gradually, Benny and his colleague Vaughn Cupido begin to work out the roots of the story, which reach as far away as England and Holland ... and as far back as the seventeenth century.
Why a novella?
Why is this book so short?
I know you’ll be wondering – Benny Griessel’s fans most of all – and rightly so. In crime fiction the novella isn’t a familiar format on bookshop shelves, and usually my books exceed a hundred thousand words. (The Woman in the Blue Cloak is just over thirty-one thousand words.)
This is the answer: In 2015 I was invited to write the Gift Book for the 2017 Spannende Boekeweek (Week of the Thriller) in the Netherlands.
The Gift Book’s format is a novella of about twenty-six thousand words. It’s a great honour to be asked to write it, and I’m most grateful. I attempted the unfamiliar, shorter form in fear and trepidation, as I was following in the footsteps of my writing heroes: Frederick Forsyth, Stephen King, Dick Francis, James Elroy, Henning Mankell, Nicci French and Ian Rankin, to mention but a few.
The Spannende Boekeweek is one of the projects of the Stichting Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek (CPNB), the Institute for the Collective Promotion of the Dutch Book, a superlative organisation exclusively focussed on promoting and marketing books in the Netherlands. For one week of the year (in June) the spotlight shines on suspense fiction. If you spend €12.50 or more at a participating Dutch bookshop, you receive the Gift Book free. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the author, as hundreds of thousands of copies of the Gift Book are printed, for two weeks you tour the length and breadth of the Netherlands, and your work has much broader exposure than usual. In addition you experience the unique process of the invitation and the initiation ceremony (all veiled in secrecy) and then participate in the preparation and introductory programmes. You have the pleasure to work with wonderful people. It was a real pleasure and privilege.
But somewhere through all the excitement I realized that I wanted Benny to take his relationship with his girlfriend Alexa Barnard to the next level in the novella. And develop that aspect of his personal life in the novel to follow. So, if we did not publish The Woman in the Blue Cloak in English, those readers might be a little confused as to the abrupt romantic developments.
And that’s the reason why this is a shorter-than-normal Griessel mystery.
The Woman in the Blue Cloak is a brilliant novella which will thrill and entertain fans of Deon Meyer's much-loved detective Benny Griessel.
Francois Bekker in Die Burger:
'The Woman in the Blue Cloak' is a murder mystery where muse and motive conspire to create a little masterpiece.
Jacques Myburgh on Litnet:
He created a masterful and compact crime novella with no pretension, and it is everybody's favourite detective Benny Griessely who has to solve the case of the bleached body.
Crime scene with a view: The lookout point on Sir Lowry's Pass, where the bleached body of a Jane Doe is found on the wall in the foreground.
The Big Bicycle Chase Scene: Voortrekker Road in Goodwood. This is what Benny Griessel would have seen while chasing after a suspect on a mountain bike ...
The Year of the Great Drought: Theewaterskloof dam during the severe Cape drought of 2016/ 2017. The dam is a major and vital setting in the book.
Leopard Country: The Overberg area where the leopard roams in the novella. Cape Nature Conservation trip cameras often photograph the beautiful predators in these mountains.
Hardcore Pawn: The pawn shop in Voortrekker Road, Goodwood that inspired the fictitious one in the book where Benny hopes to buy a second-hand engagement ring.