Review Blog

Mar 31 2017

The Satanic mechanic by Sally Andrew

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Text, 2016. ISBN 9781925355130
(Age: senior secondary to adult) Highly recommended. Crime fiction, South Africa, Food. Tannie Maria is out of her depth. She cooks beautifully, and often recommends recipes from her beloved Klein Koroo and her family to her love lost correspondents at the Klein Koroo Gazette where she works as the Dear Jane writer. The letters she receives fill her with love for these people who have a need to write to someone with their problems and her advice often begins and ends with food. But she cannot solve her own problem. She has a boyfriend, Detective Henk and they get along very well, particularly after their involvement in the first of these novels, Recipes for love and murder (2015). But try as she might, the final act of love brings back so many painful memories of her abusive husband who died some years before, that she cannot feel anything but guilt and powerlessness at the thought.
She confesses this feeling and is advised to seek counseling and ends up at an unusual PTSD group run by a man called the Satanic Mechanic. Here the group sits in a circle in the middle of a laager made by beat up rusting cars and vans grouped around a fire which often holds food cooking for them to eat after each session, and here they tell their stories. But someone is not who they seem, and one man is killed during the evening.
The recent murder of a Bushman who took a mining company to stop the desecration of their land, has caused anger amongst the community. Detective Henk is investigating this murder and does not want Tannie Maria to be involved, but with the death at the counseling group, she is involved.
He breaks off their relationship because he cannot bear to see another love die, and Tannie Maria accepts his decision.
But a last meeting at the PTSD group sees the resolution of the murders and Tannie Maria at last confessing her guilt at her husband's death.
This is a wonderful tale from South Africa, involving many ingredients: a mining company and its plunder of Bushman land, jealousy and guilt, counseling and PTSD. And above all, Tannie Maria's marvelous recipes. The second book delves more into her back story and brings this wonderful cook even closer to the readers.
Fran Knight

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