The first Yudel Gordon story was entitled A LONELY PLACE TO DIE. At the time there had been a succession of attacks on well-known opponents of Apartheid. Some of them resulted in assassinations. I was still unpublished, but in these attacks I saw plenty of material for thrillers and also a great deal for serious novels. I decided to write stories that contained both elements. They had to be good books, but they also had to have the edge-of-the-seat quality of all good thrillers. Above all, brutality against those seeking justice was a subject that should be written about.
I needed a central character. I wanted someone who would be stronger in brains than in brawn. He needed to be intelligent, intuitive and willing to ignore the rules of society to solve the cases that confronted him.
I wanted him to work for the government so that the reader would get a look inside the departments of the Apartheid regime. He had to be white because no black person made much progress in government in those days. But to be a typical white South African of the times did not work either. Although I am not Jewish, I made him Jewish. This was not because I thought they were stronger opponents of the system than other liberal whites, although some were. But being Jewish set him apart. And in my experience being Jewish in the civil service, while not out of the question, made him suspect in many circles. I called him Yudel, which means little man.
Purely by chance at the exactly the right time, I ran into the ideal model for my hero. He was small, Jewish, absent-minded and a brilliant psychologist. He brought relief to most patients, but occasionally fell asleep while listening to one of them recounting the facts around his or her boring neurosis. He had a sound system through which he sometimes hypnotised patients. But it worked poorly, occasionally bursting into loud crackling that jerked the patient violently back to the surface of consciousness. Despite it all he was good at his work and committed to it. He made a good basis for Yudel whom I placed in the Department of Corrections where he would be near the centre of the country’s criminality.
As Apartheid came to an ended and the democratic South Africa, with a completely new set of challenges, replaced it, Yudel found a worthy associate in the redoubtable Abigail Bukula. She is a senior lawyer in the Department of Justice, fearless and clever. Yudel is fascinated by her, while she is both amused by and admiring of him. Their relationship is one of friends, who give support to each other. They have never been lovers and never will be.
My new Yudel Gordon thriller, DELUGE, will be released at the end of September 2022.
Go read more about DELUGE here.