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Mike Nicol

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Reviews of The Revenge Trilogy

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.
Alain Leauthier in Marianne
Christophe Laurent in
Livres Connections
An interview with Richard Contin
Interview and review with Karin Lajon
In Le Mange-Livres
In infos-75
Hubert Artus on South African crime fiction
A French take on South African crime fiction.
In the blog unwalkers.
Christian Laurent in Passion Polar

German reviews of Payback, Killer Country and Black Heart,

„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, 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

Thomas Woertche in Culturmag.
Antje Deistler in WDR2 and includes a podcast.
Gunter Blank in SonntagsZeitung.
Die Zeit.

Beucher-magazin on Black Heart: “Grandios”


Reviews of Black Heart:
John Dobson on ‘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.’ Complete review.
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.’
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.” English translation.
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.’
Karin Brynard in Rapport: ‘Black Heart is ’n meesterstuk. Meer as net ’n misdaadroman. Dis meesterwerk. Punt.’ English translation.
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.’
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.’
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 ” 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.”
Kavish Chetty in a SLiPNET debate: “Apologies to Nicol – I resist euphemism here – but Killer Country is my stylistic Antichrist.” Previously he had slammed the novel in the online magazine Mahala as “the pulpiest of prose”.
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] great, 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!’

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,
“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
Purchase now.
In the UK Payback was selected for the 2010 Waterstones Fresh Blood campaign – one of 12 crime novels.


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