Joanne Hichens is a writer, editor and journalist. Her new thriller, DIVINE JUSTICE, was recently released in South Africa and is available on Kindle. Chosen as one of the Sunday Times' top thrillers of 2011, William Saunderson-Meyer said of the novel: "DIVINE JUSTICE is not for the fainthearted or squeamish. This is a wonderfully edgy thriller that sears a path through Cape Town's criminal underbelly like caustic soda."
DIVINE JUSTICE is Joanne's third novel, following OUT TO SCORE (2006), co-authored with Mike Nicol and published in the USA as CAPE GREED, and STAINED (2009), published in the UK and France. She edited the first anthology of South African crime-fiction short stories, BAD COMPANY (2008) (Kubu makes an appearance), and THE BED BOOK OF SHORT STORIES (2010), both of which include her own work. She lives in Cape Town, but has recently been far to the north-east from home. Here she shares her feelings about the difference and similarity of cities.
Michael - Thursday
|Table Mountain in the twilight|
As for Hong Kong, a city I recently visited for research, I reckon it’s an equally appealing setting for sci-fi as high density living sees apartment buildings touch the heavens. Not even my photos can capture the sense of the unreal. Demands for living space on this small section of land has meant building up, up, up. Fat fingers of concrete stretch up and disappear into a misty sky.
|Building Hong Kong|
|Washing from every window|
No doubt about it, high-rise Hong Kong, this financial hub, is an exciting Metropolis. But as man keeps wheeling and dealing, locked in the illusion that money makes the world go round, he pays no heed to the consequences of his self-indulgence. Passing a shark fin soup restaurant, I spared a thought for our Great White shark, for all exploited natural resources.
In Thailand kissing is banned on-screen, yet the sex industry is in-your-face. Although prostitution is illegal, it’s tolerated and partly regulated. According to NGOs up to 300 000 prostitutes work in registered entertainment establishments. The tourist’s mad quest for self-satisfaction is fuelled as Thais cater to desire.
In part it is the sense of space which appeals on my return to Cape Town. I can breathe here. And I am struck by the beauty of Cape Town’s spectacular natural assets: parks, forests, gardens and trees, vynbos, beaches. Tourists pay top dollar to visit South Africa not only for cheap plastic surgery rates and to see the big five at game farms, but to visit a city - a mere innocent in comparison to the monsters Hong Kong and Bangkok - of rare natural splendour. But no one denies there’s a shadow on the city, a flaw in Cape Town’s sparkle. This is the city which Rae Valentine negotiates as she tracks missing diamonds and gets mixed up with a group of ruthless white supremacists.
Wherever we look, whichever cities we visit, there are double-standards. The rich are pampered. They fly business class, are ushered into air conditioned limos and taxis and stores and fancy hotels and residences. They are carefree, while the poor struggle to put food on the table.
So watch out. It is exactly these conditions that ferment uneasiness.
Murder, indeed, is everywhere.