Richard Mason's page-turning sequel to HISTORY OF A PLEASURE SEEKER, the continued adventures of the inimitable Piet Barol . . .
Cape Town, 1914. Where a person can be whoever they want to be . . .
Former tutor Piet Barol and singer Stacey Meadows are making a splash in colonial Cape Town. Styling themselves as the Vicomte and Vicomtesse de Barol, they have been living by their wits - but as the world drifts towards war, their quest for comfort and riches has brought them close to bankruptcy. With creditors at their heels, their furniture business is imploding and only a major win will save them.
Stacey finds the ideal stooge: a mining magnate with a mansion to furnish. Piet enlists two Xhosa men to lead him into the magical forest of Gwadana, in search of a fabled tree. He needs precious wood, but he doesn't want to pay for it.
The Natives Land Act has just abolished property rights for the majority of black South Africans, and whole families have been ripped apart. As Piet's charm, charisma and appetite for risk lead him far beyond the safety of the privileged white world, he does not comprehend the enormous price of the lies he has told, nor where they will lead him . . .
Richard Mason was born in South Africa in 1978 to activist parents who settled in England when he was ten. Brought up and educated here, he wrote his first novel, THE DROWNING PEOPLE, whilst a 19-year-old at Oxford. In the intervening years, Richard finished his degree, then set up an educational charity in memory of his sister Kay. The Kay Mason Foundation provides scholarships to disadvantaged South African children.
Utterly entrancing...Richard Mason has created an epic narrative in which human failure and decency are opposing forces. Mason entwines the divided racial strands of South Africa in 1914, in a riveting tale seen through the eyes of both colonial whites and tribal black South Africans, as their paths converge in a search for survival and a better life. The novel is written by a master of prose who instinctively knows how to make the reader turn pages fast but also sets in motion trains of thought which demand slow, profound analysis as a seemingly playful lie spirals into an explosion of greed, lust and ruthless ambition. Set against the backdrop of ancient forests, this novel also explores the magic of nature and spirituality, and how man's noblest and most ignoble aims can sometimes co-exist in the same space.... I wanted to re-reread it immediately. Richard Mason is a distinctive voice in British fiction whose elegant prose has marked him out as one of the outstanding writers of his generation — Geordie Greig, Editor, Mail on Sunday
A triumph of a novel. It's a book that you can't help being totally caught up in...powerfully evocative and wholly absorbing. Human passions, the lust for power and status, and the inevitable fallibilities of man and beast are drawn with exquisite detail. It's a book that works on many, many levels, and lingers with you gently for many days after you reach its extraordinary end... — Gill Penlington, Director of News and Event Programming CNN London
A stunning tour de force that will leave you gripped, moved and inspired. A richly atmospheric historical novel that says much about the way we live now, Who Killed Piet Barol? is a book to read again and again: a compelling story written in luminous prose with vividly-realised characters. This is a book by a serious writer at the height of his powers — Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City
This is a gorgeous treat of a novel, full of contradictions and subtleties — THE TIMES
This is one of the finest novels I have read for many years — Cape Times
Mason elegantly rotates between characters with wisdom, pathos and real humour — PRESS ASSOCIATION
Mason continues to earn his reputation with exquisitely crafted sentences and a dizzying knack for storytelling — Kirkus Reviews
With echoes of Paul Theroux's Mosquito Coast, Mason unspools a story rich in detail and populated with deeply flawed characters whose lives intersect in the once-pristine forest that inspires acts sacred and profane. Mason handles multiple story lines with the élan of a seasoned raconteur — Publishers Weekly
This is a highly original book. Part magic realism, part fable, part history and wholly engrossing — The Times, Books of the Year
Exquisite and gripping — Observer, Books of the Year
In elegant, sensuous prose ... Mason imbues the forest with life, taking readers inside the psyche of each tree, animal, or insect ... Mason's previous novels have been long-listed for the IMPAC, Sunday Times Literary, and Lambda Literary awards. This profoundly tragic tale, in which colonialism battles tribal customs, and divisions of race and class sow distrust, should put him over the top — Library Journal, Starred Review
A perfect example of what makes Mason such a superb writer; his novels tell the rare and profound kind of truth that only stellar fiction can — Pretoria News
This riveting tale is set in South Africa in 1914 as a world war looms, and is told from the perspective of both colonial whites and tribal blacks. — MAIL ON SUNDAY
An ambitious, elegantly written novel with a touch of magic — National Book Review