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Silent Valley

by Malla Nunn

The body of a seventeen-year-old girl has been found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, near Durban. She is the daughter of a Zulu chief and known as the most beautiful young woman in the valley, destined to fetch a high bride price. Was Amahle as innocent as her family claims, or is her murder a sign that she lived a secret life? And why would the killer have covered her body in flowers…like a lover?

Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper and Constable Shabalala are sent to the dramatic landscape to investigate. They must enter the guarded worlds of a traditional Zulu clan and the white farming community to gather up the clues Amahle left behind and bring her murder to justice. But the silence in the valley is deafening, and it seems that everyone – from the uncooperative local police officer, to the white farm boy who seems obsessed with the dead girl – has something to hide.

With no cause of death, no obvious motive and signs that lead to every secret except those they are trying to uncover, Cooper’s investigation is blocked at each turn. Can he tough it out, or will the small-town politics that stir up his feelings about the past be more than he can bear?

In this page-turning tale of murder and mystery, Nunn entangles us in a rich and complex web of witchcraft, tribalism, taboo relationships…and plain old-fashioned greed.