Dark Traces by Martin Steyn || Book Review

I actually found a South African author who wrote a crime/mystery book that I didn’t feel like chucking aside!

This is also translated from Afrikaans and that was done very well. It’s a slow burn book, some character focus but overall it was a gripping read with a deranged serial killer that needed to be caught – ASAP!

DISCLAIMER: This review could contain possible spoilers based on my opinions. All opinions and views are my own.

Book review: Dark Traces by Martin Steyn #bookreview #martinsteyn #crimebooks #booktwt #bookaddict #booktwitter

Originally published: 2014

Pages: 352
Format: Paperback

Plot from GoodReads:

When a child is murdered, a light is extinguished in a parent’s eyes.

They find her decomposing body in the veld. A teenager. She was raped and tortured for days. She was hanged. And she wasn’t the first.

The South African Police Service’s Warrant Officer Jan Magson, estranged from his son and still grieving for his wife, is assigned to the case. He has to look the mothers and fathers in the eye. He has to answer their questions. And he can’t.

Headlines question the police’s ability to protect the community from this evil. A newspaper prints a mother’s heart-wrenching letter to the killer. A father offers a substantial reward.

And every time a lead reaches a dead end, Magson finds himself looking down at another dead girl, wondering how he’s going to make it through the dark traces of yet another night, alone, a service gun at his side.


I appreciated the fact that the book included an index to explain who the major characters are in the book so you have a clear understanding of who is who. The glossary was also a big help.

The author kept true to how certain things work (or don’t work) in the justice system, how things drag out and how some crimes just get forgotten.

I liked the local lingo used and living in South Africa, I understood all of it but readers that aren’t familiar with cultural and conversational aspects might not get the context.

The crimes committed are brutal and while not overly graphically explained, you know exactly what went on. The author wasn’t detailed but he direct. There were however some moments where details were explicit but only to highlight the severity of the situations.

The build-up in the book was slow but worth it! It wasn’t easy to predict who the serial killer was which was good because there were no spoilers and the suspense build up continued throughout the book right until the end. I have some feelings about the accomplice which might have been added to make the reader decide their own conclusion around it – it was just a little too suspicious to take at face value.

Magson is a complicated character, he is dedicated to the job but he struggles with his own demons and it made him more believable. I was rooting for him all the way, not only to catch the killer and end the terror but hoping that his own traumas wouldn’t bring him down.

My Rating:

The book has a rating of 3.98 on GoodReads. I gave it a 4.

Dark Traces by Martin Steyn #bookreview #martinsteyn #crimebooks #bookaddict #booktwitter

Have you read Dark Traces?

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