Blessed Are the Dead
An Emmanuel Cooper Mystery
The body of a beautiful seventeen-year-old Zulu girl, Amahle, is found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, halfway between her father’s compound and the enormous white-owned farm where she worked. Detective Sergeant Cooper and Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala are sent to the desolate landscape to investigate. They soon discover that Amahle’s life was woven into both the black and white communities in ways they could never have imagined. Cooper and Shabalala must enter the guarded worlds of a traditional Zulu clan and a divided white farming community to gather up the secrets she left behind and bring her murderer to justice.
In a country deeply divided by apartheid, where the law is bent as often as it is broken, Emmanuel Cooper fights against all odds to deliver justice and bring together two seemingly disparate and irreconcilable worlds despite the danger that is arising.
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Read an Excerpt
A ZULU HERD BOY walked quickly up the dirt path, his bony frame bent to meet the steep rise of the mountain. The rhythmic pounding of his bare feet on the rough ground kicked stones loose and raised red dust into the air.
“Higher, ma’ baas.” The boy was apologetic, afraid of taxing the white policeman in the neat blue suit and the black hat pulled low on his head to block out the light. “We must go higher.”
“I’m right behind you,” Emmanuel said. “Keep going.”
The steady pace was nothing compared to army boot camp or the three years spent in... see more
Reading Group Guide
When Amahle, the beautiful teenage daughter of a Zulu chief, is found murdered in the remote foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains, Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is called to investigate. Sensing that something terrible has happened, Emmanuel must navigate the various circles of Amahle’s complex world—interviewing everyone from her English aristocrat employers at Little Flint Farm, who favored her over their other servants, to her misogynist father, who was planning to marry her in exchange for a herd of cows, to the local police and medical offices that seem reluctant to offer any help whatsoever. In a community fraught with racism, sexism, and an ever-changing balance of power, finding Amahle’s killer may prove impossible—or even deadly.
Questions & Topics for Discussion
1. How does Emmanuel’s military background help him with his detective work? How does his background provide an advantage that other detectives might not have?
2. How does the author evoke the atmosphere of apartheid-era South see more