The Sunday Hangman By James McClure

Released by Soho Crime in early February, The Sunday Hangman is probably one of the best police procedurals published so far in 2012. The author, James McClure (1939 – 2006), was a British author and journalist best known for his Kramer and Zondi mysteries set in South Africa. The Sunday Hangman is the fifth book in this series originally published in 1977.

A Brief Summary

Tollie Erasmus, an unsavory bank robber on the run, is found dead hanging from the neck in a remote location. A bible is stuck in his left hand and at first it seems that this is a simple case of suicide. Lieutenant Kramer and his Bantu assistant Mickey Zondi are not convinced though. Soon another criminal ends up at the end of a noose; a message to Kramer and Zondi: Someone is upholding a code of justice that goes beyond the South Africa court system.

Somewhere there’s a killer who knows far too much about the hangman’s craft, and Lieutenant Kramer and Zondi must find him before his trail of death continues.

Our Take

The Sunday Hangman goes beyond a typical police procedural novel: The strong focus on mixing the story with McClure's naturalistic view of the location produces a rare tale of crime which not only puts the readers in the center of the realities in South African society but also absorbs their minds with vivid descriptions of the relationships between the native and white residents of the country.

McClure's writing is very personal: Many details are added by the author regarding the life of the main characters; from the forensics doctor's wife demanding a TV set, to the health problems and career difficulties of Zondi; such side stories don't distract the reader but add to the richness of the main plot.

This is a fast pace story; at times tense and occasionally comic; that is based on a solid plot and keeps the reader guessing to the last few pages. The ending had an interesting twist which might surprise many readers.

Overall, a great story especially for the readers who enjoy mysteries in exotic locales.

Our Rating: 5.0

Like Kramer and Zondi Mysteries?

James McClure has written 8 novels in this series. Here are some suggestions (Click on the images)