In his debut novel in English, Martin Steyn explores two different sides of murder—killing for love, killing for pleasure.The body of a teenage girl is found in the veld near an upper middle-class suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. And she’s not the first. When the pathologist discovers she was hanged, she remembers a similar case.The last thing recently widowed Detective Jan Magson feels like taking on is a serial killer file, but alongside Inspector Colin Menck he follows the trail: the teacher with a past; “love letters” mailed to the girl’s parents by, in all likelihood, the murderer; a pool cleaner who likes to take pictures of teenage girls.Magson has to look the mothers and fathers in the eye. He has to answer their questions. And he can’t. He has no answers. He can’t even answer his estranged son’s questions about how, exactly, his wife died.Another girl is found in a field, leading to a new number of potential suspects. Magson, by now in therapy and trying hard to make a new life for himself, descends on them in earnest.Then two more girls disappear within two days. Magson and Menck are racing against the clock—a weekend, according to the pattern—to try to find them.
“A damaged but determined detective is matched against a bold and intelligent killer in this captivating debut thriller.”– Library Journal
“According to Steyn, Dark Traces is based on a real case, but the character of Jan Magson is his own creation, and a wonderful creation he is: human, subject to melancholy, and fallible. One hopes this is not the only appearance of Mags, as he would make an unforgettable series character.” NY Journal of Books
“A tense and grisly debut novel of suspense from South Africa.” Kirkus (starred review)
Martin Steyn began writing Stephen King-inspired horror stories in his teens. After obtaining degrees in Psychology and Criminology, he studied serial killers and profiling, writing seven true crime profiles for the Crime Library website. Dark Traces is his first novel in English. You can find out more about him at his website, martinsteyn.com.