Death on the Limpopo: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew. Published by Umuzi, 2019.
Tannie Maria has, at last, had the chance to travel, to places north of the Klein Karoo, where her father had lived and told his small daughter tales of adventure, of mountains and places about which she had dreamed, for many years.
But the journey was not a simple one and the destination part of a sequence of events that would tax the most resilient traveller. Tannie Maria proved to be more than equal to the task.
This title is the third in the Tannie Maria series of mysteries, the first two best-sellers that have been translated into 14 languages. Tannie Maria is a gentle character, a true foodie, an agony aunt on the local small newspaper that runs the letters she receives and her answers – which always include a remedial recipe for a bake or a nice pot of good home-cooked food. Tannie Maria carries unpleasant memories of an abusive relationship, but that’s all in the past and her boyfriend, Henk is strong and kind and a detective at the local police station. He loves Maria and tells her so, but she has not yet expressed her love for him.
Maria has helped to solve two local murders, her comfortable looks and motherly demeanour concealing a keen sense of observation and an excellent memory. But this time she is faced with a murder committed many years ago while also coping with the murderers who are determined that their dark secrets not be revealed.
A tall dark stranger walks into her life, a black investigative journalist who was well known for her exposés of corrupt government and business deals, and an environmental and gender activist. Zaba was in danger and soon Maria was too. When Zaba revealed that the two had a special relationship, the bond between them is sealed.
The pair had things they had to do, up north, where Maria's journalist father had lived and worked, so she took her little bakkie to the road for a journey filled with adventure and danger that ended at the Limpopo river, where Botswana and South Africa and Zimbabwe meet.
In this setting, scene of centuries of conflict, the drama plays out to a happy ending. There is equally happy news for Tannie Maria’s many fans – we hear that her next adventure is already taking shape.
[Just a quick question to the cooks and chefs who help to compile the recipes at the back of the book. Tannie Maria is, we know, a great cook and baker, who produces wonderful Karoo fare, from bobotie to melktert, lamb pie to malva pudding. Would she, I wonder, really want to make a cake – however special the occasion – that requires a recipe filling nearly six pages, starting with grapefruit curd, followed by meringue, followed by the layer cake followed by white chocolate “lightning” shards, held in place by mascarpone. Would she?]