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Blessed Are the Dead

Blessed Are the Dead

An Emmanuel Cooper Mystery

  • reading group guide
Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper returns in this powerful, atmospheric novel about two communities forced to confront each other after a murder that exposes their secret ties and forbidden desires in apartheid South Africa, by award-winning author Malla Nunn.

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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  • Atria/Emily Bestler Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451616958 | 
  • June 2012
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Blessed Are The Dead includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

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

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About the Author

Malla Nunn
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Malla Nunn

Malla Nunn was born in Swaziland, South Africa, and currently lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a filmmaker with three award-winning films to her credit and is currently at work on her next novel.

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