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Glittering Gallows

Basil Diki

Publication Year: 2013

Seduced at the age of fourteen by her foster father-cum-priest, Heidi Gaynor roamed the Docklands of London and wound up at a ch‚teau in France. Now she is almost seventeen and ready for a decent livelihood, but isnít aware an opportunity can reduce her to a vulgar necessity. When her new masterís wife, Katherine, is troubled if she really saw her billionaire husband in bed with their daughter, the rich man erupts. In her investigations, Katherine undergoes a ìpost mortemî. The billionaire must cover his back before secrets traceable to Gregory Rasputin consume his family. Regis is the billionaireís vagrant nephew, a disillusioned graduate on a quest to unknot a crime that crippled his student-nurse fiancÈe. He thinks he must rob a bank and play a role prophesied when he was in his boyhood. Glittering Gallows is mainly set in France, South Africa and Australia.

Published by: African Books Collective


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-5


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pp. iii-6

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pp. iv-xiii

“Your life is about to change, sweetheart.”
“Are you trying to be coy, Regis?”
“Today I’ll take you to my uncle, the premier.”
“Stop kidding me.”
He shook his head. “I must keep my word and take the affair to the next level.” ...

Part I - The Clangour Of Omens

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Chapter 1

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pp. 3-18

Erotic business was low that week at the Château Richelieu in the farmlands near Nancy, France, though orthodox trade in the area; minding grapevines, champagne production, its storage, auction and transportation, flourished throughout the district famous for its first-grade wines...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 19-24

In one accord, Premier Moagi Makgunda flowed and mingled with the throngs of white tourists swarming the Vatican. Regrettably, he noticed that many people found the Seven-hilled city a vast monument ever awe-inspiring and paling other archaic resorts including the Egyptian Pyramids and the Victoria Falls...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 25-34

After ceremoniously making a donation of two million rand to the director of the Art Museum at the corner of Schoeman and Wessels Street, Moagi Makgunda walked out of the grand building, a swarm of journalists dogging him. In Gauteng Province, from Pretoria to Johannesburg, right to the rural limits of...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 35-44

The morning sun had long risen from the peaks of the Magaliesberg when Regis Makgunda awoke partially imprisoned in webs, deathly spiders seemingly hanging guard over him. Ants roamed his limbs and belly. The stings he felt around the waistline of his trousers, in his groan and pubic hair, were...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 45-56

"Aren’t the children joining us?” Moagi asked his wife.
Katherine shook her head. “They’d noodles and prawns an hour ago. But Eunice and Eurydice may be drifting towards anorexia.”
“What makes you say so?”
“The girls’ appetite is getting poorer by the day. At the table they often gag.”...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 57-60

Lousy stings around his waistline, in his groin and the cleavage in his fundament woke Regis around nine o’clock of the following day. He awoke to ponder a bleak future, scrap a living and attempt to gather the vestiges of his old life. Poverty had turned him into a simpleton of predictable routine...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 61-66

They were in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart at the corner of Skinner and Bosman St. Father Hendrik van Vuuren was conducting requiem Mass because he, Regis, was dead and in a casket with a Judas window through which he could see the priest and follow proceedings though his eyes were fixed and staring. But his hearing was as acerbic as that of a jackal on the brink ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 67-72

Lerato dreamt of her husband, Lebokang Makgunda. Dreaming of him, an unassuming man who made her come first in his life, was a pleasure. A total man, hardworking, passionate about her and how his family perceived him throughout their years of marriage, Lebokang instilled a positive self-image in her...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 73-78

Half an hour later Lerato sat on a dining chair wrapped in a blanket courtesy of her neighbours standing around her in their yard. Not completely recovered from the terror and the panic, her eyes were on her house. Four flashing police vehicles, which brought about a score of police officers, and an ambulance, ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 79-84

The morning was breezy and eerie, and the day, sun-flooded, typically African. As usual, the streets teemed with all sorts of people going about their businesses.
Coming from the direction of Compol Buildings housing the Police Museum, Lerato Makgunda left Bosman St and walked onto the premises of Pretoria’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. In the...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 85-90

His boots clattering on the wooden stairs, César Sergio Miguel parted a beaded curtain and descended into the basement of his rented house in Sunnyside, but the squeaky chat of rats in a closed basket he carried muffled the clatter. Under an armpit, he held a live hybrid chicken, white, vapid and unruffled. The...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 91-94

After twenty minutes, César Sergio Miguel roared out of his rental house’s garage on a Harley-Davidson motorbike, a Sportster Forty-Eight. The streets, dark and treacherous, contrasted sharply with his arresting, glistering, red motorcycle...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 95-98

At five minutes past nine that night, hours after Lerato Makgunda visited the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart; Father Hendrik van Vuuren sat in the lounge of his rectory, troubled with what she had told him and undecided on the action to take. As a priest he wanted to be a good shepherd; the one who...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 99-104

From Minnaar St, Regis staggered like a stricken bull in the shambles. At times appearing to fall on his face, at times walking sideward like a crab, scolding himself and laughing at his disorientation, he hobbled past the Museum of Geological Survey into Andries St, Burgers Park appearing before him. He was too...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 105-108

Moagi Makgunda sat behind his desk in his thirteenth floor office in the East Wing of the Gauteng Provincial Government Building in Marshalltown, Johannesburg. A cup of coffee and a cutting from France’s L’Express were before him. In French, the cutting talked about a police raid at the Château...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 109-114

Their background the beautiful gardens of Burgers Park, three days after their drunken altercation, Regis and Aluwani sat on the edge of the pavement watching the branch of Binomial Bank of South Africa across Andries St. In beggarly clothing, the two sat quietly. Regis was focussed despite constant distractions from the...

Part II - The Agitated Adder

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Chapter 17

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pp. 117-124

It was a large amount.
The hour dusk, a purple sash around his neck forgotten over his grey suit, Father Hendrik van Vuuren gloated at the stack on his desk in his cathedral office. He sat motionless in an armchair, meditative, quietly asking God if he hadn’t erred by accepting the...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 125-134

When Father Van Vuuren placed his hand on a doorknob in one of the cathedral’s portal doors, a familiar voice reached him.
“Father Van Vuuren?” it was Lerato’s voice.
“It is I, my child,” he shouted at the door. “Are you in trouble?”...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 135-138

The feminine figure covered from head to toe in a dark burqa stepped on the accelerator of the damaged Nissan Qashqai. Apart from the figure’s hands, the garment covered the whole body. The wearer could be let through a Taliban roadblock as a Shari a-adhering woman. But close scrutiny of the hands would reveal a...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 139-140

César Sergio Miguel stepped out of the riverside house, the Colt .45 and a torch in his hands. Listening, he discerned no threats except the distant cry of birds and animals, perhaps jackals and hyenas, he wasn’t sure and he didn’t care. Wildlife wouldn’t be a match to a predatory man of his calibre. He walked...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 141-148

When South Africa Airways Boeing 747-400 flight 605 approached Johannesburg shortly before the crack of dawn and circled the city once, presumably the pilots acting on instructions from the control tower, Heidi Gaynor had an...

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Chapter 22

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pp. 149-156

Like a blacksmith lost in his trade by a blazing furnace, Moagi Makgunda exerted himself, sweat pouring from his body, his back muscles knotting and unknotting rhythmically. But unlike a smith, he was prostrate and naked. Beneath him a youthful body, also unclothed, wriggled. Girlish hands clung to his shoulder...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 157-160

Alone on a shiny ball-and-claw dining table in her allocated quarters, Heidi Gaynor breakfasted on oats, omelette, baked beans, smoked sausages, ham and bacon a resident chef brought her. She was in a reserved two-piece suit for good impression. Refreshed and having rested a little, she appeared ready...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 161-166

As the trapezoidal casket descended, Father Hendrik van Vuuren raised his voice in prayer: “Lord, remember Your Church throughout the world. Make us grow in love, together with our Pope, and Fredericks Marcus, our bishop, and all the clergy. Remember Sister Lerato Makgunda whom You’ve called...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 167-170

Compared to Britain and France, South Africa was a furnace, a constant reminder to foreigners that they were in Africa. Comfort-pampered in the backseat of a Toyota Land cruiser VX 200, Heidi Gaynor was in a miniskirt, a T-shirt and a pair of sandals as a counter-measure against the scorching heat...

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Chapter 26

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pp. 171-174

Hicks, the snow-white French poodle trailing behind them, at times overtaking and cavorting elatedly ahead of them, Moagi and Eula rode steadily on separate horses towards the western end of the estate. At most the horses cantered...

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Chapter 27

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pp. 175-176

At five o’clock in the afternoon of January the twentieth, a day the latter holding a fruit hamper, flowers and a large birthday card. The day before, when they visited him after his wife’s burial, Lebokang turned and faced the wall when they walked in. He refused to answer in words or in signs when his brother asked him how he ...

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Chapter 28

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pp. 177-184

The sky was overcast, severely compromising visibility in the unkempt area around Mamelodi Township’s graveyard. Nocturnal birds cried disquietingly. But Regis and Aluwani, carrying a second-hand digging pick on his shoulder and a shovel respectively, threw the tools over a precast wall and scaled it, landing...

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Chapter 29

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pp. 185-188

South African weather was unpredictable in the rainy season. In the morning it was sunny though partially overcast. In the afternoon a storm had raged in Pretoria. Now at eight o’clock of the same day, the first of February, it was unbearably cold...

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Chapter 30

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pp. 189-192

The second night after Heidi Gaynor’s arrival at the Randlord Mansion, Moagi Makgunda and Divine Kakudji watched the new arrival undressing for bed in the bedroom of her quarters. The images were pornographic, yet the men watched them deadpan...

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Chapter 31

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pp. 193-196

Having nothing to occupy her and enjoying the freedom to do as she pleased as granted by Moagi Makgunda, Heidi Gaynor stood at the stables and watched the stable master and a hand strap a saddle and stirrups on a horse. Standing in the sun outside a lazy-man door with the top half open, she admired the...

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Chapter 32

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pp. 197-202

Katherine breathed heavily beside him, lost in sleep in their matrimonial bed. Moagi gazed at a dimly-lit chandelier, recalling the turkey and the horse anomaly. The foiled attacks were evil omens. Something was wrong and the attempted bestiality was the sign. His wife had demanded a logical explanation....

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Chapter 33

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pp. 203-210

Running and screaming, a conviction came upon Katherine Makgunda that she would die in a mansion she had cherished as a God-given blessing. Her death seemed inevitable. In this mansion she had recited and sang passages from the Book of Psalms and Proverbs. Now this mansion that had assumed the air of a sanctuary over the years, this mansion that was her...

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Chapter 34

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pp. 211-222

Cigarette smoke filled Father Hendrik van Vuuren’s nostrils. He thought he was dreaming, but when his nostrils tinged on the verge of sneezing, he opened his eyes and stared into a miasma of smoke hanging in his bedroom...

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Chapter 35

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pp. 223-226

Moagi Makgunda was restless, but he vehemently resisted the urge to pace. They had offered him a chair, but he had declined it. Standing beside Dr Kingsley Housman, a surgeon with receding silvery hair, his arms and brow were folded...

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Chapter 36

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pp. 227-230

Heidi Gaynor, the uniformed sergeant and two of Moagi’s bodyguards in dark suits and shades waited for him in the foyer of the X-ray and radiology department. The security details were on their feet while Heidi lounged in a sofa, two leather-bound dossiers and the billionaire’s diary resting in her lap. A couple...

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Chapter 37

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pp. 231-238

The afternoon was sweltering hot. Roasting draughts blew from the west.
César Sergio Miguel sat by the poolside at his rented Sunnyside house. He was in a swimming trunk, his body a billboard of tattoos. His chest stood out like deformed breasts. If he lost the...

Part III - The Clank of Scythe and Machete

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Chapter 38

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pp. 241-244

From a world of claustrophobic whirlwinds and roaring tempests, Katherine rose with eerie buoyancy until she began drifting among serene, purplish clouds. In the world below, the tumultuous turmoil swished, mingled, roared and hissed like a sea of beheaded gargantuan dragons. She knew that as long as she was in the sky and far above the commotion below, ...

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Chapter 39

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pp. 245-246

The tunnel was dank and very narrow. It smelled of sewage. Crouched beside a homemade paraffin lamp, Aluwani, shirtless and sweating profusely, burrowed with the pick at the end of the tunnel. They had cut half of the tool’s wooden handle off to allow for swinging in the confinement...

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Chapter 40

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pp. 247-250

The mentally unhinging image of Moagi and Eurydice naked in each other’s arms lingered in Katherine’s mind. It stood in her view like smog. Her forehead hurt.
Questions without answers boggled her. Why had she dreamt of Gregory Rasputin? How had a historical character crept into her...

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Chapter 41

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pp. 251-254

Regis and Aluwani lay on a patch of lawn among flowers. They were on their backs, side by side watching the stars, exhausted but radiant with expectation. Their plans were on course.
Regis was looking at his life in retrospect and telling Aluwani about his ex-girlfriend, Agnes Lamola. He told him about the...

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Chapter 42

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pp. 255-266

The consultative chambers at Dr Herbert O’Donovan’s practice were pristine and soundproof. The northern windows overlooked the magnificent Magaliesberg, the range of mountains. The pollutant noises on the city’s streets and roads below weren’t heard in the chambers. If she hadn’t driven herself to...

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Chapter 43

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pp. 267-270

Heidi Gaynor woke up at noon very exhausted. She kept yawning and stretching her arms as she lay in bed. It wasn’t typical of her to wake up at that hour whether she had gone to bed early or late. Her boss would be angry with her, she thought...

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Chapter 44

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pp. 271-278

Twenty minutes after she left Dr Herbert O’Donovan’s chambers, Katherine drove to the back of Tshwane Hospital and steered the car, a silvery Jaguar XJ, through a gate in a fence in the backyard of the institution. A signpost confirmed she wasn’t lost: ...

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Chapter 45

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pp. 279-282

Regis and Aluwani sat on a concrete bench in Burgers Park. A swarm of cuckooing pigeons doted around the bench expectant of grains or crumps of bread from them. The two men were regardless of the birds.
They sat quietly, sharing a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka and staring across a section of the park and Andries St at the façade of the bank: ...

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Chapter 46

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pp. 283-288

The next day, Katherine Makgunda and Dr Herbert O’Donovan sat in the same chambers. Unlike the previous day, they had exchanged positions. A forgotten mug of tea was on her side of the table. The recorder and the clipboard were on the coffee table as before. The room was stone-silent...

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Chapter 47

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pp. 289-296

The premier’s four-engine Boeing 747 jet touched down at Gateway International Airport in Pietersburg, the provincial capital of Limpopo. Being South Africa’s gateway to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana, the airport was a fairly large...

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Chapter 48

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pp. 297-302

The air in the pathologist’s office was less pungent than in the morgue proper. Sitting facing Dr Nancy Lefoka across her desk in her office overlooking AUTOPSY CLASS ROOM A, the room in which Katherine Makgunda had lain on a table the day before, she could see covered bodies in the adjacent room, and...

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Chapter 49

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pp. 303-308

The Rolls-Royce Phantom TB, the Gold Edition sedan, black, silver and golden, ostentatious and gleaming, Moagi Makgunda’s preferred car of the week, turned into the driveway of Randlord Mansion. The main gates automatically slid open via blue-tooth interaction. A bullet-wound, ...

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Chapter 50

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pp. 309-312

From the morgue, Katherine drove aimlessly through the city’s CBD. She didn’t know where to go and how to face her husband without betraying the hatred and bitterness inside her.
As she drove, she continued to see Moagi and Eurydice in bed. Throughout their marriage, twenty years now, she had found him...

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Chapter 51

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pp. 313-316

The air inside the security company’s building was refreshingly cool. The floor was thickly carpeted and all the visitors’ chairs were empty. The furniture and furnishings were oaken and bamboo respectively. The walls were indigo and decorated with sketches of ninjas and Samurai fighters. If Katherine hadn’t seen the...

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Chapter 52

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pp. 317-318

Moagi Makgunda, Seidu Amissah and Divine Kakudji sat around the desk in the premier’s residential office in the back of the mansion. The three were pensive. A cassette recorder playing on the desk was coming to an end. This was a copy the butler made immediately after Seidu Amissah fetched the original...

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Chapter 53

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pp. 319-324

At half-past eight in the morning of the twenty-eighth of February, Regis and Aluwani were already standing outside the Andries St branch of the Binomial Bank of South Africa. Regis had traded his cart two days earlier for two hundred rand and three bottles of Smirnoff Vodka. The amount was roughly equivalent...

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Chapter 54

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pp. 325-326

Men and women in expensive suits, decorated police uniforms, army fatigues and Air Force ceremonial dress streamed out of a boardroom. They poured out to take a supportive stance behind the Police Minister on a podium in the press conference room in the National Police Headquarters in...

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Chapter 55

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pp. 327-328

The two bags were now fully stuffed, tied and lay near the revolving door.
The tellers, the security guard and everybody, stood against the front windows, the backs of their heads pressed against the louvers. Aluwani moved on the floor of the hall, monitoring them vigilantly. Outside, marksmen trained their weapons at the bank. But...

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Chapter 56

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pp. 329-334

On arrival at the crime scene, Det. Snr. Insp. Tony Khumalo asked if all the possible exits were sealed and all drivers found in cars parked within a radius of about two hundred metres provisionally arrested. Experience detected that there had to be a getaway vehicle somewhere. The answers from his subordinates were affirmative...

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Chapter 57

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pp. 335-336

The video screening room at Bushido Security Company was designed like a home cinema for a dozen. The room was in semi-darkness and quiet. Ryuu Masayoshi and Katherine Makgunda sat side by side in a middle row and watched a white screen in front of them. A projector beamed high-definition...

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Chapter 58

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pp. 337-340

With his left hand, Moagi gently fingered the surgical scar on Katherine’s brow, and with his right spoon-fed her with fried chicken served with noodles, baked ham and a caramelised onion. They were sitting side by side at the family dining table, but it was the two of them alone. A bottle of champagne in an...

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Chapter 59

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pp. 341-346

A large python slithered at César Sergio Miguel’s feet as he sat in the armchair in his bedroom. He was in a white vest and jeans trousers. The Colt M1911 and the semi-automatic Smith & Wesson .45 lay on the floor on both sides of the chair. In the other rooms, rats squeaked endlessly...

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Chapter 60

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pp. 347-350

Black Pepper galloped at a spirited gait towards the woods in the west of Randlord Mansion, Heidi Gaynor rocking rhythmically on his back. The horse was beginning to obey her verbal commands, and it felt good to be in harmony with the graceful animal...

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Chapter 61

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pp. 351-352

Moagi Makgunda sat in his oak-panelled governmental office on the thirteenth floor of the Gauteng Provincial Government Building, his legs propped on his desk. The Nigerian hermit’s final words played in his mind: ...

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Chapter 62

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pp. 353-360

At dusk, Regis quickly walked down a nameless street in a shanty slum settlement in the southern part of Soshanguve, turned, sprang over a rivulet of raw sewage flowing by the roadside and entered Agnes Lamola’s shack. He found her leaning on crutches and lighting a homemade paraffin lamp. He entered as the...

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Chapter 63

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pp. 361-362

Katherine Makgunda arrived in Sydney, Australia, a day later than Moagi and she had anticipated because monsoonal weather delayed their take off in Jakarta for several hours. Soon after arriving in Sydney and checking into the Swissôtel at about half-past nine in the morning, she bathed, slept for about three...

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Chapter 64

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pp. 363-364

Sydney was a magical destination, Katherine, perched on a stool and looking out through parted curtains, observed as she peered at the city through a telescope mounted by a seaward window of her grandiose Swissôtel suite. The mesmerising skyscrapers were as marvellous as the cerulean-blue Tasmania Sea in...

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Chapter 65

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pp. 365-368

The target’s head was squarely in the gun’s telescopic sight. The range was superb, about two hundred metres for a gun that took out targets more than five hundred metres away. He held his breath and stilled his body. If he missed, it would blow everything. She would most likely seek refuge at the South African...

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Chapter 66

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pp. 369-372

The dashboard clock pegging the time at 23:30 hrs, Katherine Makgunda drove the Lotus Avora down a ramp to the basement car park of the Swissôtel. She was tired. The fourhundred kilometre drive to Canberra via Wollongong had drained her of strength. But she had enjoyed every moment of it behind the wheel of the sports car...

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Chapter 67

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pp. 373-378

The dashboard clock pegging the time at 23:30 hrs, Katherine Makgunda drove the Lotus Avora down a ramp to the basement car park of the Swissôtel. She was tired. The four-hundred kilometre drive to Canberra via Wollongong had drained her of strength. But she had enjoyed every moment of it behind the...

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Chapter 68

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pp. 379-384

After about three hours of rough driving, the jalopy slowed down and turned. She observed that they had driven through a rustic farm gate decorated with large pioneer wagon wheels on both sides. The car stopped and the Aborigine went to close the gate. He was soon in the car and driving, but with less haste this time...

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Chapter 69

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pp. 385-388

Moagi Makgunda lounged in a sofa in the main lounge. The children were in school. Katherine was likely in a body bag in Australia. He hadn’t reported for work that day at the Provincial Government Building because he woke up restlessly worried about lack of conformation from César Sergio Miguel, or the...

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Chapter 70

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pp. 389-392

Regis Makgunda waited for the butler and the chauffeur to leave. The lounge had three exits. The dwarf used an eastern door while the Ghanaian exited in the opposite direction through a western one. Regis mutely questioned why none of them used the main and northern one behind their master. Moagi remained...

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Chapter 71

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pp. 393-396

At the handle-free steel door in the basement, Regis looked about, thinking. His eyes rested on an eye-level keypad console by the door. He stood back and struck the console repeatedly with the chopper. The injuries in his forearms hurt. The console deformed and emitted contact and electrical...

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pp. 397-402

“Will you marry me?”
She set her knife and fork on the table, looked down at the kneeling man, and then at the few diners near their table whose attention they had attracted. A while ago, he had said he wanted to visit the bathroom, and stood up. But he had knelt beside her and...

Back Cover

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p. 420-420

E-ISBN-13: 9789956790388
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956728398

Page Count: 418
Publication Year: 2013