A Ben Schroeder Legal Thriller #8‘
When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw’ – Nelson Mandela
1964, Apartheid South Africa. Danie du Plessis, the son of a conservative Afrikaner family, is poised to start a glittering legal academic career at one of South Africa’s leading universities, when he falls in love with a student, Amy Coetzee. But there’s a problem: he’s white, she’s not. Facing arrest, imprisonment and ruin, the couple flee South Africa, and settle in Cambridge, where friends find them positions at the University. They marry and have two children, and have seemingly put the past, and South Africa, behind them. But in 1968 Art Pienaar enters their lives, and, insisting that they have a duty to fight back, enlists their help in increasingly dangerous schemes to undermine the South African regime.When Pienaar and a notorious drug dealer, Vince Cummings, are found murdered together, Danie’s activities come to light, and he and his family find themselves in mortal danger. Danie is also threatened with criminal prosecution on behalf of a government desperate to maintain good relations with the apartheid regime. Danie knows he’s sailed close to the wind. But has he become an outlaw? Can Ben Schroeder persuade a jury that the answer is no?
Danie du Plessis
I knew instantly that Nick Erasmus – or whatever his name may have been – was dead. I knew the moment his head hit the fender in front of the fireplace.
I knew because I’d heard that sound before – only once before, thank God, but that was enough. When I heard the sound before, I was on the East Campus at Witwatersrand, watching a student demonstration in progress right in front of the Great Hall, one of many such demonstrations that took place at the University in 1964. The students, several hundred of them, were confronting a phalanx of police officers wearing riot gear, carrying shields, and armed to the teeth, with everything from tear gas to live rounds. I saw a young white officer club a black student over the head, just the once – not because of any immediate threat to himself that I could see, but arbitrarily, almost casually, as if acting out of some sense of entitlement. I saw the student fall to the ground and lie perfectly still, while other students demonstrated, and the police postured threateningly, all around him.
I heard the sound of the clubbing, and I knew then that the student was dead, just as I knew today that Nick Erasmus was dead. The student’s death was widely reported in the press, but no action was taken against the officer. He was on duty, protecting the public against rioters, the authorities said. That seemed to conclude the matter. That was how things were then.
Thank you, Ben Schroeder and Random Things Tours
About the author
Peter Murphy graduated from Cambridge University and spent a career in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge. He has worked both in England and the United States, and served for several years as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. As well as Verbal, the seventh book in the Ben Schroeder series, he has written two political thrillers about the US presidency, Removal and Test
of Resolve. His latest series, featuring Judge Walden, returned in 2019 with a fresh series of cases. He lives in Cambridgeshire.