This novel was published in 1971 and is set in the South Africa of the Apartheid era. It features a biracial team of detectives, Lieutenant Kramer, an Afrikaner, and Sergeant Zondi, a Bantu who assists him. As the book opens, a beautiful blonde music teacher in her mid-twenties has been murdered by someone who poked a sharpened bicycle spoke into her heart. This is the technique of a Bantu gangster, but is this a gang-related killing, or is it just supposed to look that way in an effort to throw off the investigators?
The case turns out to be very complex and takes a number of unforeseen twists and turns before building to a very surprising conclusion. The strength of the book lies in its portrayal of life in South Africa during this era, and the relationship between Kramer and Zondi is especially revealing. In a society as carefully delineated as this one, each has a very specific role to play, and there can be no hope of solving this crime unless the two work in close harmony.
With the growing interest in international mysteries, it's nice to see an entry from South Africa. James McClure ultimately wrote eight books in this series, and I'll be looking forward to reading more of them.