Weeping Waters is set in a small community by the Karoo, Northern Cape. We are introduced to a police detective Inspector Albertus Beeslaar who swapped his high-paced job in Johannesburg to settle in a town where the only crimes are in stock farming.
He never anticipated being welcomed by the gruesome murder of Freddie Swarts and her daughter. Freddie and her adopted daughter were found by one of her neighbors, with a slit throat, and her daughter lying in a pool of blood. Apart from the murders, the inspector had to deal with his young unimpressionable detectives who were not properly schooled on how to treat a crime scene. This of course annoys the hell out of the inspector who already has a triggered temper which ultimately makes him out to be a racist when he scolds his two sergeants.
Inspector to the Superintendent, “There was no racism…My impatience with his (Sergeant Gershwin Pyl) shoddy work isn’t racism!”
All the while reading this story, as with the Inspector and the whole community, I could not place who the killer was. My first suspect was the farm manager, Dam de Kok who seemingly had some kind of relationship with his boss, the victim, Freddie Swarts. After all, Dam was going to be the owner of the farm according to Freddie’s will and it did not help that Dam was never forthcoming. When asked, interrogated about his whereabouts on that fateful Wednesday, he kept saying that he was waiting for the bank to open. However, he cannot explain where and what he was doing during that hour while waiting for the bank to reopen.
Could he have driven back to the farm, murder his boss, change his clothes, and go back to the bank?
Then there were more murders, including an old monkey found at Dam’s house with its hands chopped off, throat slit, and a piece of wire across its forehead. That would only mean, Dam would not be suspect any longer. He loved animals and birds, a falconer he said. In any case, why would he slit a monkey’s throat and place it in front of his house?
At this point, I am at the edge of my seat.
Later, a character is introduced. A big shot of some sort who drives a BMW. It becomes apparent that it could be him after his car was identified going out of a murder scene. This character is a wanted suspect in Joburg.
Why would he murder Freddie?
Freddie was a teacher and was later pushed by her friend, Nelmarie to be a full-time artist. She inherited her father’s farm after his death. Sara, Freddie’s sister did not want to be part of that and so she left for the Cape. Freddie was apparently a nice person who wanted to adopt a child with alcohol syndrome and also wanted to help the community of the Griquas to get back their land. The writer then narrates a bit of the history of the Griquas through the local museum’s curator.
Freddie’s need to be the ‘Messiah’ annoyed the local farmers who would lose their farms should Freddie’s petition to find the land’s rightful owners come through. Perhaps then, as we read on, one of the angered farmers could have killed poor Freddie. With Freddie gone, no one would interfere and would threaten their livelihood. It makes perfect sense but then who did it? Whoever murdered Freddie, would have been someone who was friendly with her. Her house had no signs of forced entry.
This leaves her ‘boyfriend’ who had a fallout with her recently as he learned that Freddie has named her manager as the farm owner. Then there was her friend, Nelmarie. Throughout the story, there is no hint that she could want to kill Freddie. Although, she never helped Freddie’s sister Sara with burial arrangements or clearing up Freddie’s house. She was never available to help Sara.
Who would benefit from killing Freddie?
Weeping Waters by Karin Brynard is a crime fiction novel that is set in South Africa. The community setting is particularly important here, as this novel explores how people can be affected by what happens in their surrounding environment. It’s definitely a book that will make you think about how your own country and history have shaped you and influenced the present day.
My only excuse for being late to the Karin Brynard party is that crime fiction is not my choice of genre, I am more of a historical fiction kind of girl. Weeping Waters is a translation of the Afrikaans bestseller Plaasmoord. Day after day, I had the urge to go back and continue wondering what would be happening next.
“A slow-burner that gets hotter and hotter as the pages turn.’’ – Mike Nicole