Ishmael Toffee by Roger Smith – review

After years of killing in the streets of the Cape Flats, the horrifying slum outside of Cape Town, and even more years killing within the walls of Pollsmoor Prison, Ishmael Toffee is ready to stop, you know, fucking killing already.  Now on parole, Toffee gets a gig gardening for a wealthy widower who lives in a mansion with his six year old daughter Cindy.  Cindy and the isolated Toffee quickly form a bond and she confesses that her father sexually abuses her.  Suddenly killing doesn’t seem like such a bad thing after all.

Roger Smith is one of my favorite writers working in crime today and Ishmael Toffee, his new novella, is a damn fine introduction for the uninitiated.  Smith is unafraid of dragging his readers to some truly disturbing places (I would never recommend him to folks who can’t stomach “child in jeopardy” stories) and, as you can tell just from that brief description up top, this is beast gets disturbing awful fast.  But if you’ve got the stones for him, Smith will reward you with some of the best thriller writing around.

He’s particularly interested in the clash between the rich whites of Cape Town and the desperate mixed-race folks of the Cape Flats, the most horrifying place I’ve had the pleasure of visiting in crime fiction.  Ishmael Toffee gets into some really scary corners of this hellscape and, naturally, I love it all the more for it.  If you take a chance on this hugely intense but ultimately redemptive novella, you’ll see what you’ve been missing after the very first chapter.  Just remember to keep your trusty okapi knife nearby while you’re reading…

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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