This is the fourth novel of the Yudel Gordon Series.  Yudel Gordon is an eccentric prison psychologist working in Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa.  This book is set against the backdrop of post-Apartheid.  More about the Yudel Gordon stories can be found here.

In a cross border safe house of the liberation movement seventeen dissidents, including fourteen-year-old Abigail Bukula and her parents, are hiding. The defence unit of nineteen-year-old conscripted rookie soldier, Leon Lourens is sent on a dawn raid to kill everyone in the house.

While Abigail is kneeling next to her dying father’s body the Captain orders Leon to finish her off. Leon refuses and points his rifle at his Captain instead saying “No, Captain, we’re soldiers not murderers.”

When the raid is over only seven people are still alive, including a wounded Abigail. They are taken to police holding cells closest to the border.

That night Abigail is brutally raped by Michael Bishop, the movement’s assassin, who was sent to rescue the survivors. In total silence he also strangles all the policemen on duty with his signature thin piano wire. In one night she is saved by a good man working for an evil cause and brutalised by an evil man, working for a good cause. One of her country’s many strange anomalies.

Although Abigail does not see Leon again she never forgot how he saved her, until one day, twenty years after the raid he reappears in her life and asks her to  help save his own life.

He tells her that every year since the Twenty Second October raid one of the soldiers who took part in it has been murdered. Only two remain alive. Leon and Van Jaarsveld, the leader of the raiding party. Van Jaarsveld is in a high security jail. Leon knows he is next.

Abigail is determined to save his life and believes that Bishop is responsible for the killings.

She enlists the help of Yudel Gordon, a brilliant criminal psychologist working in the prisons department. Yudel is strange, eccentric but very effective.  He agrees to help her, and the two of them together makes a formidable team. Their biggest challenge – they have only six days in which to find Bishop and save Leon.

Then Leon is abducted. The race is on to find Bishop, but also to find Leon before it’s too late.

The morning of the twenty second arrives now they have only hours left.

The October Killings, from Wessel Ebersohn, not only brings to life the new South Africa in all of its color and complexity but also Abigail Bukula—the sharpest, most determined sleuth in international crime fiction.

Reviews for The October Killings

Publishers Weekly said of this South African Thriller

South African author Ebersohn kicks off a promising new series pairing psychologist Yudel Gordon, last seen in 1992’s Closed Circle, with Abigail Bukula, chief director of South Africa’s justice department, who can more than hold her own with the brilliantly eccentric Gordon. As a 15-year-old girl, Bukula survived a raid on an African National Congress house in Lesotho on October 21, 1985, thanks to the intervention of a white soldier, Leon Lourens. In 2005, Lourens seeks Bukula’s help after learning that almost all his colleagues on the raid have been murdered on the exact anniversary of the assault. To catch the killer, Bukula hooks up with Gordon, who lost his government position with apartheid’s end, to get access to the imprisoned commander of the attack, Marinus van Jaarsveld. The complexities of South Africa a decade after the end of white rule help fuel a compelling plot that builds to several dramatic climaxes.

Booklist’s Thomas Gaughan says

Lawyer Abigail Bakula has a high-profile post in the South African government’s Department of Justice, but just 15 years before, she was present when her father and many other blacks fighting apartheid were murdered by white security forces. Teenage Abby would also have been murdered, but Leon Lourens, a young white soldier, saved her. As this book opens, Abby is busy at work when Leon appears at her office. He tells her that he’s one of the last members of that security force left alive and that he expects to be killed in coming days. To keep her savior alive, she must revisit the darkest moments of her life. Abby teams up with quirky, aged prison psychologist Yudel Gordon to track down Michael Bishop, a mysterious and brutal white assassin who supported the anti-apartheid forces. Ebersohn, an established South African novelist, has created engaging characters; a gripping plot; a great backstory involving the country’s recent, violent past; and trenchant commentary on South Africa today.

More Praise For The October Killings

The Globe and Mail 

“A brilliant novel of memory, reconciliation, and revenge. Ebersohn was always one of South Africa’s best, and this new book–the beginning of, I hope, a series–shows why. . . . Definitely one of the best mysteries of the year.”

Kirkus Reviews 

“His horrors, rooted so closely in history, have a nightmare quality that’s hard to shake.”

Get it now here 

Book 4 – The October Killings
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