the october killings by wessel ebersohn

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.

Abigail Bukula was fifteen years old when her parents were killed in a massacre of antiapartheid activists by white apartheid security forces. Because a young soldier spoke up in her defense, she was spared.

Now she’s a lawyer with a promising career in the new government, and while she has done her best to put the tragedy behind her, she’s never forgotten Leon Lourens, the soldier who saved her life. So when he walks into her office almost twenty years later, needing her help, she vows to do whatever she can.  Someone is slowly killing off members of the team who raided the house where her parents were murdered, and now Leon and an imprisoned colonel are the only targets left.

Abigail turns to Yudel Gordon, an eccentric, nearly retired white prison psychologist for help. To save Leon’s life they must untangle the web of politics, identity, and history before the anniversary of the raid—only days away.

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.”

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Book 4 – The October Killings
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