A Beautiful Place to Die* is an accomplished debut in a projected mystery series by Malla Nunn.
Award-winning filmmaker Nunn sets this atmospheric police procedural in her native South Africa. Det. Sgt. Emmanuel Cooper is called to investigate the murder of an Afrikaner police captain in Jacob's Rest, a small border town with Mozambique.
1952 saw the gathering force of apartheid. New government decrees further etched the color divide. Racial tension, already ingrained, festered with secrets and lies both sordid and honorable. Cooper, being an outsider and under the oppressive supervision of the farcical government agents, must tread lightly to get at the truth.
Mystery readers might remember fondly James McClure's early apartheid procedurals, mostly out-of-print. For another current series set in South Africa, try Salamander Cotton by Richard Kunzmann.
Fans of the PBS MYSTERY! program should also check out the cinematic 1999 miniseries Heat of the Sun, about a former Scotland Yarder transplanted to 1930s Nairobi, filmed entirely on location.
* = Starred Review