Published August 2013: Of Cops & Robbers and in Afrikaans translation Dieners & Donners from Umuzi. Due out from Old Street (UK) and btb (Germany) in 2014.
Reviews and interviews:
A chat on Litnet with Jaco Botha, Afrikaans translator of Of Cops & Robbers: “It’s also a tale of surfing and smuggled rhino horn, boobs, splif and bad asses with big guns. It’s the South African dream, man.”
A chat with Mamuwi Mbao on SLliPNet:
Jonathan Amid reviews Of Cops & Robbers for Litnet: “Whether you read his latest work as a playful homage to the hard-boiled heroes of the 1930s, find the crossing of boundaries between fact and fiction a source of interest, or just want to read a white-knuckle thriller about the not-quite state of the nation, Nicol’s your man.”
Margaret von Klemperer in The Witness: “[Of Cops & Robbers is] a heady, tough mix, and Nicol’s use of language is as brutal as the world his characters inhabit, giving the book a sharp authenticity.”
Jonathan Amid on SLipnet reports Cornering Crime in Cape Town: “When discussing Of Cops and Robbers, [Deon] Meyer describes Nicol’s style as ‘by far the best in South Africa.’ Meyer praises Nicol’s ‘deliciously complex’ characters, and commends the author’s ability to create indelible scenes.”
Joan van Zyl reviews Dieners & Donners in Huisgenoot: “…jy is van voor af geskok oor die moordbendes van gister en die moordenaars van vandag, en jy lag heerlik vir die onverwags snaakse tonele en bisarre situasies wat soms so tipies van SA is.”
Brian Joss in Cape Community Newspapers: “… a gripping thriller and hard to put down…’
Leon de Kock in the Cape Times: “…a ripping yarn and hard to put down…”
Audrey Paton in The Sunday Times: “Mike Nicol’s latest thriller is his best yet … a delightful hardboiled fantasy.”
“Superb,” says Neil Sandilands in a private message, then recants: Die Burger.
An interview with Sue Grant-Marshall in BusinessDay: “I thought that Nicol had possibly hit a high-water mark with his stunning Revenge Trilogy. But this politicised crime novel shows he has a lot more telling bullets left in his authorial chamber.”
Willie Burger reviews Dieners & Donners in Vrouekeur: “Hierdie roman wys hoe verwikkeld ons land se geskiedenis is, hoe misdaad en korrupsie van die een bedeling in die volgende oorvloei, maar ook hoedat ’n mens nooit met sekerheid ander mense kan ken nie en nie kan weet wie nou eintlik die dieners en wie die donners is nie.” [...] “As jy haastig wil lees en min tyd het, lyk die 400 bladsye na baie, maar jy raak so betrokke dat jy hulle al hoe vinniger omblaai en teen sonop kan jy nie wag vir ’n volgende roman nie, want daar is gewoon nog te veel wat jy nog nie weet nie.”
The Black Heart trailer
Black Heart, number three in the Revenge Trilogy featuring Mace Bishop and Pylon Buso, was published by Umuzi in South Africa and Old Street Publishing in the UK and is also available as an ebook. Payback and Killer Country are available from both publishers and in ebook format. The German edition of Payback was published by btb in 2011 and Killer Country in 2012. Black Heart is due from btb in March 2014. In France Payback – La Dette – is published by Ombres Noires. Killer Country appears in the northern spring of 2014
An extensive interview on the Revenge Trilogy can be read here.
French interviews and reviews of La Dette (Payback)
” Mike Nicol excelle á fouiller les zones intermédiares du bien et du mal, ces contradictions qui définissent l’ambivalence morale. Après ses compatriots Deon Meyer, Malla Nunn et Roger Smith, il s’impose comme un grand maître du roman noir.” – Sacha Sery in Le Monde. Complete review here.
Alain Leauthier in Marianne
Christophe Laurent in Livres Connections
An interview with Richard Contin
Interview and review with Karin Lajon
In Le Mange-Livres
Hubert Artus on South African crime fiction
A French take on South African crime fiction.
In the blog unwalkers.
Christian Laurent in Passion Polar
Payback: No 1 KrimiZeit-Bestenliste January, February and March 2012; In ZeitOnline’s top ten for 2012
Killer Country – January, February and March 2013 on the KrimiZeit-Bestenliste
German reviews of Payback and Killer Country,
„Ganz, ganz großartig – über mehr als 500 Seiten richtig spannend“ – Antje Deistler on WDR2
Stern (fünf von fünf Sternen): „Mike Nicol erzählt in ‚Payback‘ schnörkellos von Macht und Gewalt, von Drogen, Waffen, Sex und Verzweiflung – ein hartes Buch über ganz junge, schon begrabene Träume.“
In einem Live-Gespräch stellte Thomas Wörtche im Deutschlandradio Kultur das Buch vor: „(…) wegen dem Witz, der Coolness, der Eleganz der Handlung und der Dialektik zwischen Wucht und Beiläufigkeit des Erzählens und des Erzählten ist ‚Payback‘ ein großer Wurf.“
Auch in der Berliner Morgenpost wurde „Payback“ von der Berliner Krimibuchhandlung Hammett empfohlen: „Nicol zeichnet ein realistisches Bild von Südafrika, schreibt auf hohem Niveau, ist temporeich und lebendig, ohne actionlastig zu sein. Ein großer Krimi.“
Der erste Teil der Trilogie findet auch im Mannheimer Morgen Gefallen: „So ist ‚Payback’ ein packender Thriller, den man nach Lektüreende nicht einfach aus der Hand legt, sondern dessen Geschichten nachwirken und die Folgebänder ‚Killer Country‘ und ‚Black Heart‘ erwarten lassen.“
Der Standard meint: „Nicol zieht alle Register“. Und auch im Plärrer, buchreport.express und der Sonntagszeitung wurde der Roman besprochen.
“Einer der besten internationalen politischen Kriminalromane des Jahres” – Christian Koch on NWZ Online
Christian Koch review
From Krimi & Thriller Club
Reviews of Black Heart:
John Dobson on iafrica.com: ‘It is a great fun South African thriller by a star of a South African author that should be essential, if anti-social, reading, this summer.’ Read the review here.
Maxim Jakubowski’s on Lovereading UK selected Black Heart as one of 10 international thrillers: ‘This is the final volume in the Revenge Trilogy (previous titles were Killer Country and Payback) and is packed with thrills and surprises and in security entrepreneurs Mace and Pylon, he has created a fascinating pair of anti-heroes. Cool and stylish.’ Check out his selection here.
Darren Gilbert on Media Update: ‘It’s a 300-plus page thriller that doesn’t let you breathe, even as the final page approaches.’ Read the review here.
Kerneels Breytenbach in Die Burger: ‘Dit as aanloop tot Mike Nicol se Black Heart, ’n roman wat bestem is om een te word waarna toekomstige kritici baie gaan terugverwys. ’n Briljante speurverhaal, maar ook ’n werk wat vir die plaaslike leser iets sê oor die land waarin ons woon: Die donker sy van ons samelewing is tans die oorheersende sy. ‘ Read the full review here and in English click here.
Jonathan Amid on Litnet: ‘Nicol’s final instalment of the “Revenge Trilogy” is both satisfying and deeply unnerving as a work of crime fiction. It is a veritable anatomy of anarchy with a tone as black as coal, black as night.’ Read the review here.
Karin Brynard in Rapport: ‘Black Heart is ’n meesterstuk. Meer as net ’n misdaadroman. Dis meesterwerk. Punt.’ Read the full review here and there is an English translation here.
Margaret von Klemperer in the Witness: ‘The Revenge Trilogy is gripping and pacey [...] if you like your chillers icy and the realism gritty, they don’t come much colder and grittier than this.’ Read the full review here.
Leon de Kock in the Mail & Guardian: ‘In such conditions, the crime thriller contains the generic elements best suited to social analysis. Action, pace, chase, kill. Grab it, get it, take it, fake it. The amoral imperatives of our necrophilic society find a fitting parallel in the crime thriller genre. Whatever means is necessary to the end. Content meets form. It is a perfect match. Nicol has found the pitch pretty much spot-on.’ Read the full review here.
Brian Joss in the Cape community newspapers: ‘If you want to know what happened to [Sheemina] February you will have to read 300 nail-biting pages to find out. I was given a preview copy and I read it in one sitting. I defy you not to.’
Marcel Berlin in The Times: ‘Compelling . . . terrific dialogue, and Nicol’s Cape Town is cool, dangerous, full of humour and very far from its touristy image . . . Black Heart paints a vivid portrait of the moral confusion of post-apartheid society.
Mike Ripley in his Getting Away with Murder in Shots Ezine: “…Nicol has created in Sheemina February one of the best – and scariest – female villains I have had nightmares about recently and his skill with tough, hard-boiled dialogue is to be envied.”
Steve Davies for Fine Music Radio: “Written in a nourish, hard-boiled style, the action, set mainly in a wintry, dystopian Cape Town (where you would not want to live) hurtles towards a ‘High Noon’ confrontation. Memorable characters and action see Mike Nicol at the top of his thriller-writing game.”
Kate Turkington on her blog Joburg.co.za: ” With fast, furious, clever, atmospheric, gripping plotting and writing, Mike Nicol just gets better and better.
From the reviews of Killer Country:
Payback and Killer Country were voted onto Janet van Eeden Harrison’s top reads of 2010 with these words: ‘Gritty, unapologetic and brutal at times, Nicol pulls no punches when it comes to writing about crime in this country. It’s not pretty. But the twists in his plots are.’
Jennifer Jordan in Crimespree Magazine: ‘Killer Country … is hard hitting. The writing is terse, clean and strong. Careful when reading this book. It has claws and it will scratch. And it is fine. Mighty fine.
Jenny Crwys-Williams on her 702 book programme: “It is a fantastic novel.”
Jonathan Amid on Litnet: “Promising to raise the bar of crime fiction in South Africa even higher, with PAYBACK superb and KILLER COUNTRY immaculately written and tremendously entertaining, there is little doubt that Nicol’s final and third novel in this trilogy will be worth the wait.”
Kerneels Breytenbach in Rapport: ‘Killer Country is in feitlik alle opsigte ‘n skitterende roman. [...] Sowat van spanning het ek lanklaas beleef – ek oordryf nie as ek se dit is ‘n skitterende spanningsverhaal hierdie nie. Nicol stroop sy skryfwerk van versiering en verkry sy emotiewe krag uit die mense en hul wedervarings. Dis taal met spiere.’
Pearlie Joubert: ‘Fokkin amazing. I finished Killer Country this weekend. Jirre, it’s a great book. I could NOT put it down. And I loved the music. I love that music. and you write beautifully about swimming. Like a swimmer. And thanks for murdering the young white couple… the smits. jissis. I disliked them. ’
Khuluma (Kulula’s inflight mag): ‘Mike Nicol once wrote well-regarded, high-brow literature. Thank the god of words he doesn’t now, because he is one of crime fiction’s saviours. [Killer Country has] githt, street-tough dialogue that fizzes and snaps, gut-churning action, as well as more twists and turns than a fast blast along Chapman’s Peak make this a killer read.’
Brian Joss in the Cape Community newspapers: ‘Nicol is anything but PC as he exposes the underbelly of contemporary South Africa, and he has an uncanny knack of making the reader part of the action with a few well chosen words and short staccato sentences. You can feel the chilly mist that descends over Table Mountain which hints at things to come. [...] Don’t miss Killer Country or, if you haven’t read it, Payback‘.
William Saunderson-Meyer in the Sunday Times: ‘Mike Nicol’s powerful second novel … depicts a South Africa where the running sores of ruthless cadre enrichment, state corruption, and casual violence causes even the tough guys to flinch. Killer Country is a world of moegoes, mlungus and bushies, unmediated by PC schmaltz. A world where the supposed good guys are not averse to some creative offshore accounting and the detecting duo’s nemesis is a woman they once tortured in an exile camp.’
Anthony Egan in the Mail & Guardian: ‘Could crime fiction be the new direction the “political novel” is taking in contemporary South Africa? If that is so, what does this say about our self-perception as a nation? And, if I am right, what does this brilliant but incredibly bleak new work by Mike Nicol say about where we are going? [...] What drives this story perhaps more than plot and character is the power of Nicol’s writing. Sparse and matter-of-fact… [...] [Killer Country] makes for great if deeply unsettling reading.’
Leon de Kock in the Sunday Independent: ‘If you have to spend a weekend alone, with only one book for company, you’d want one that reads as slickly and as compellingly as Killer Country’.
Kevin Ritchie in Tonight: ‘[F]rom a reader’s perspective, [Killer Country] rams home the richness of the South African scene; you can smell the dust of the Karoo, taste the Amstel on the back of your throat and blink away the smog of a Joburg highveld morning all in one sitting.’
Joanne Hichens in the Cape Times: ‘Killer Country fits [the] bill as a high-energy thriller, strong on unadulterated krimi entertainment.’
Andrew Marjoribanks on Fine Music Radio calls Killer Country a ‘world-class thriller’ as good as anything Michael Connelly has written’.
Margaret von Klemperer in the Witness: ‘This is a book that will grip you by some painful part of your anatomy and not let go until you have got to the end. Nicol leaves the readers wanting more…’
Vivien Horler in the Cape Argus: ‘Crime thrillers set in places like London and New York are entertainment, while thrillers set in Cape Town, handled by consummate writers like Nicol, mean you never see the city in quite the same way again.’
Karabo Kgoleng on SAfm literature: ‘If I lived in Cape Town I’d have come over and smacked you with the book for doing what you did.’
The Wordsworth Choice newletter for February said: ‘Fast running and full of action, this is a great thriller.’
Lientjie Mentz in Volksblad: Met die lees van boeke soos Killer Country besef ’n mens weer die legio idees wat daar in die land vir die misdaadskrywer beskikbaar is. Eintlik sny dit hopeloos te naby aan die hart en besef ’n mens dat die goed afgeronde karakters ’n spieëlbeeld van die duister kant van die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing voorhou.
From emails and by sms: ‘How could you do that?’ ‘You swine! I don’t believe you did that.’ ‘You’re awful.’ ‘I didn’t think you have the courage. But did you have to..?’ ‘Bastard.’ ‘What a terrible terrible thing to do, you joyless f–k.’ ‘Oh for heaven’s sake!’ ‘Really, did you have to do that?’ ‘You…’ ‘Sod you!’ ‘Shit, man!’
From the reviews of Payback:
Payback was selected for the 2010 Waterstones Fresh Blood campaign – one of 12 crime novels.
Payback, the first of a trilogy, represents an inspired effort to weave a story from the filaments of language, class and violence that pervades the city of Cape Town – Deji Olukotun in World Literature Today November 2010
Cape Town’s underbelly riotously exposed in this shrewd, wisecracking and funny thriller. This is the crime novel which garnered the most praise – and rightly so – in 2008 as veteran journalist Mike Nicol flexes his creative muscles in a book surely made for a movie. Mace Bishop is the anti-hero, brought to heel by his exotic, wounded wife and their daughter. The price is doing business in Cape Town’s underworld – and surviving, somehow. The villain is a gem all on her own as goodies battle baddies in the shadow of the mountain. Wonderful fun and clever with it. The Serotonin Index: This book will have you gasping all the way: a savage story narrated by a master – Jenny Crwys-Williams in her February 2009 newsletter
Mike Nicol’s first solo foray into crime fiction is a rollicking tale of drugs, arms dealing and international intrigue set on the streets of Cape Town. With a keen ear for the dialogue of the streets and a pair of likeable but tough and fallible characters called Mace and Pylon at its centre, this is crime writing with universal quality and local relevance that leaves Nicol’s contemporaries with a whole lot of catching up to do – Tymon Smith in his Sunday Times list of the Top Ten SA Books of 2008
Sy dialoog knetter soos kleingeweervuur en die storie spaander soos ‘n vlakhaas… – Deon Meyer, Boeke Insig
Boei vir Mike Nicol aan ‘n stoel vas, druk ‘n AK teen sy slaap en se: “Skryf nog, pappie, ons wil lees” – Boeke Insig
A great read, pacy, cool, hard-bitten and hard-hitting – Michiel Heyns, Sunday Independent
A talent deserving wide international recognition – William Saunderson-Meyer, The Weekender
Sit sand tussen jou tande en ril in jou ruggraat – Karin Brynard, Beeld
…[T]he dialogue is brilliant, the writing too, and Payback, has perhaps the coolest ending one is likely to find anywhere – Barbara Ludman, Mail & Guardian
A very fast plot soaked in suspense, makes it utterly compelling – John Dobson, iAfrica.com
Nicol’s clipped dialogue and sparse, high-impact prose recall that of revered American recluse Cormac McCathy – Bruce Dennill, The Citizen
10/10 for this gritty, fast-paced thriller – Brian Joss, Constantiaberg Bulletin
The ending hits you with a thump. The clues are there, sure, but they give no hint that the denouement will prove so savage – James Mitchell, Tonight
Payback by Mike Nicol is world class, and this thriller, set in the Mother City, has pace, wonderful characters and brilliant dialogue – Elle‘s holiday hotlist 2008
Out to Score
with Joanne Hichens
From the reviews of Cape Greed – the US edition of Out to Score:
‘…a tightly woven narrative whose several strands that are intertwined with the diverse racial and political strands of contemporary Cape Town and move forward quickly and inexorably toward confrontations that manage to avoid the usual cliches’ – International Noir Fiction
‘…a hard-boiled PI tale [...] combines the street smarts of Elmore Leonard with [...] gritty depictions of South Africa’s criminal culture’ – a starred review in the Library Journal
‘…a sizzling slice of South African noir’ – Kirkus Review
‘…an accomplished page-turner [...] the prose clipped, the action fast – Publishers’ Weekly
From the reviews of Out to Score
Out to Score is a fast-paced, dirty-talking, street-wise page turner … as nasty a cast of villains as one could wish for and, in the end, two rather likeable heroes – Michiel Heyns, Sunday Independent
At last, a hard-boiled detective novel that does for Cape Town what Carl Hiaasen has done for Miami – Chris Roper, Marie Claire
Mendes and Saldana are going places, right to the top of the bestseller lists. And I can’t wait for the next one – Brian Joss, Plainsman
Miskien is Nicol ons antwoord op Graham Green, ‘n skrywer wat daarin kon slaag om ‘n ernstige roman uit hierdie sub-genre na vore te bring – Joan Hambidge, Die Burger
Out to Score was published in the US as Cape Greed under the pseudonym Sam Cole.
South Africa joins the hard-boiled stakes, and in a wondrous dazzling humorous novel. Imagine Ellroy joining forces with Chester Himes, Coffin Ed, and Gravedigger, throw in the spectacular landscape of South Africa, and you’ll get some sense of this wild and daring novel. One prays this is the first in a series – if Tom Sharpe wrote mystery, this would be it – Ken Bruen
Out to Score is a wild, dark, violent, and exotic brew of weary PIs, drug-addled poachers, and master criminals in modern-day Cape Town written by hard-boiled disciples of Elmore Leonard and Ken Bruen. Completely original and appealing – C J Box
A knockout debut. South African authors Nicol and Hichens write better American-style crime fiction than the Americans, capturing the disenfranchised detective with freshness and style. Trust me: this is a rare reading pleasure – April Smith