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Cape Greed    by Sam Cole order for
Cape Greed
by Sam Cole
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sam Cole's Cape Greed is a noir mystery set along the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, and centered on the highly profitable trade in 'the Cape aphrodisiac', abalone (also known as perlemoen), 'an edible rock-clinging mollusc of warm seas'. Harvesting abalone is controlled, poaching is rampant, and the molluscs are smuggled overseas for enormous profits.

The story's lead is ex-cop Mullet Mendes. He and Vincent Saldana are recent partners in a small PI firm. Mullet is happy in his relationship with his peg-legged love Rae-Ann, though uneasy about her pushing for cohabitation. Vincent, still grieving over his wife's recent death in a car accident, is drunk most of the time. Both men left the police force because they were tired of putting their lives on the line, 'The firepower out there greater than any firepower you've got.' Unfortunately past history is about to catch up with them.

The story begins when their firm is hired for two unusual jobs. Mullet himself takes on the task of trailing accountant Roger Oxford, suspected by his wife Judith of using prostitutes. The second client requests Vincent specifically for his anti-poaching experience. His job will be to watch for an anticipated heist on an abalone farm, to follow the robbers home, and identify them for the authorities. Running the heist is perlemoen poacher Tommy Fortune, once jailed by Saldana, and with a burning desire for revenge.

Fortune provides entrepeneur Jim Woo with the perlemoen product his Taiwanese partners (members of a sinister Brotherhood) crave. Woo, who has his own plans to take the Brotherhood's profits to the Cayman Islands, pulls the strings for most (but not all) of what follows. While the perlemoen plot evolves, Mullet is also consulted by his police friends on horrific serial killings of street kids. These events erupt into several violent confrontations before it's all over and Mullet can return to his favorite pastime, fishing.

If you like a noir mystery in an exotic locale and well leavened with violence, then you'll enjoy Cape Greed by Mike Nicol and Joanne Hichens writing together as Sam Cole.

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