Set in the seedy underbelly of Cape Town, Jack Hanger is a gritty and compelling novel by local author, James Fouche. The action takes place over just a few days in the run up to the 2010 soccer world cup, and while it gets off to something of a slow start, Fouche manages to jam a whole lot of action into those few days.
The main character is Dave Matters, who once had his own role to play in the world of crime, and now suffers from a rather unusual form of obsessive compulsive disorder and amnesia following a traumatic car accident. This psychological disorder is pivotal to progression of the plot, as the reader is drawn ever-deeper into the scarred mind of Matters. The book is a prototypical crime novel, with just the right mix of suspense, violence, and vengeance, with great depth of character thrown in for good measure. The author also uses the novel as a vehicle for engaging with broader social issues such as crime, economic conditions, and the impact of fatherlessness on children – all issues of particular pertinence to a South African audience. This is done in a way which further enhances the reader’s understanding and enjoyment of the novel, rather than being overtly ‘preachy’. All in all, it is a gripping read – certainly a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.