Tuesday, September 4, 2018

recent read; MEMO FROM TURNER

MEMO FROM TURNER by Tim Willocks

Taking a break from his Tannhauser historical fiction trilogy, Willocks delivers a thriller set in modern South Africa.
What happens when a man of absolute integrity finds himself trapped in a world of absolute corruption?

During a weekend spree in Cape Town a young, rich Afrikaner fatally injures a teenage street girl with his Range Rover but is too drunk to know that he has hit her. His companions – who do know – leave the girl to die.

The driver’s mother, a self-made mining magnate called Margot Le Roux, intends to keep her son in ignorance of his crime. Why should his life be ruined for a nameless girl who was already terminally ill? No one will care and the law is cheap. But by chance the case falls to the relentless Warrant Officer Turner of Cape Town homicide.

When Turner travels to the remote mining town that Margot owns – including the local police and private security force – he finds her determined to protect her son at any cost. As the battle of wills escalates, and the moral contradictions multiply, Turner won’t be bought and won’t be bullied, and when they try to bury him he rediscovers, during a desperate odyssey to the very brink of death, a long-forgotten truth about himself...

By the time Willocks's tale is finished, fourteen men have died. He shows once again that he is the laureate of the violent thriller.
As you can see from the synopsis, this might be filed under crime thriller but the story is a modern western. An incorruptible officer of the law, wading into mining territory controlled by a big boss who will stop at nothing to protect their offspring? What could be more western?

Warrant Officer Turner is determined--a man of honor who will uphold the law until the bitter end, like any good sheriff of old. He encounters corruption and resistance at every turn.

With Willocks, we can expect a spaghetti western, too. We get one, sure enough. Willocks lays out the characters like chess pieces, and the tension builds as events and people are moved into place for the showdown.

Willocks pulls a bit of a feint. The violence arrives and it starts off not quite so visceral as I would have expected. But then the plot hits its major twist and Willocks again casts an unflinching brutal eye over the madness of violence and survival. Not for the squeamish.

I enjoyed this one a lot. Recommended if you like crime fiction and/or bloody westerns. It moves right along. I read it in a few days.

MEMO FROM TURNER has not been published in the U.S. It is available via second-hand sellers through Amazon, ABEBooks, and other sites.


  1. I know Willocks knows his Conan and Robert E. Howard. It was not lost on me how there might be an intentional reversal here. I don't know if Tim has read the Solomon Kane stories. But the imagery of the man leaning over the dead girl and vowing justice--this time with Africans--brings "Red Shadows" to mind.

    Suddenly the slim form went limp. The man eased her to the earth, and touched her brow lightly.
    "Dead!" he muttered.
    Slowly he rose, mechanically wiping his hands upon his cloak. A dark scowl had settled on his somber brow. Yet he made no wild, reckless vow, swore no oath by saints or devils.
    "Men shall die for this," he said coldly. - Robert E. Howard, "Red Shadows"

    Though, in Turner's case, the killing comes later. His first goal is to make a peaceful arrest.

  2. I'm definitely going to have to fit this one in.

  3. Man, I'm annoyed my copy isn't here yet. It still remains in the slow hands of the USPS