Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Crime Beat

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Crime Beat: Waterboarding MD Villiers

MD VILLIERSThe perp: MD Villiers

CITY OF BLOODThe charge: Guilty of writing City of Blood

The evidence:
L J Hurst in Shots ezine: City Of Blood is a fascinating look at a city that is little more than a disaster with a civil service on top. [...] …I suspect that this city holds many other stories and that M D Villers will be telling them.

Laura Wilson in The Guardian: Johannesburg, a turbulent city with a fearsome reputation for lawlessness, is fertile ground for a crime writer, and South African author MD Villiers makes the most of it in her first novel. [...]There is plenty of action, but also, amid the chaos and carnage, a sense of redemption.

Peter J Earle on the Mean Streets website: MD Villiers does not try to out-gore and out-blood her contemporaries. Her characters blossom slowly, with both compassion and maturity, with all their senses awakening. As with them, one smells the smells, sees the sights and feels the revulsion, or fear, or love.

Eva Dolman in her blog Loitering with intent: [MD Villier’s] simplicity of voice echoes that of her characters, but is not demeaning or condescending. Her empathy encourages that of the reader in such a way as to tighten the bowstring of suspense almost beyond endurance. Do not forget to breathe. She writes with a clear, confident voice and the kind of forceful pacing which makes you whip through the pages. It is a striking debut from a writer who promises to become a major talent and I’m looking forward to what she produces next.

Marcel Berlins in The Times: The city of blood of M. D. Villiers’s terrific debut is today’s Johannesburg, where the elimination of apartheid has not been accompanied by peace on the streets. Casual violence, gang warfare and frequent killings are the norm.

1: Who are your favourite heroes (male and female) of crime fiction?

Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins, Henning Mankell’s Wallander and Mma Ramotswe.

2: Which really nasty true crime baddies most fascinates you?

I’ve always been intrigued by Stander, the South Afican cop that turned bank robber.
He was so audacious, robbing banks in his lunch break, acting like a character in a Clint Eastwood Western. I always wondered where it started. Why did he go that far?

3: Who are your favourite people in real life?

Mandela, of course, and Desmond Tutu. I love his sense of humour.

4: Your favourite drink?

I like a good red wine, and good coffee but if I have to pick one drink, it will probably be a Mojito.

5: Your favourite musician or band?

I love Tracy Chapman’s music, but also like Jonny Clegg, Springsteen and Norah Jones.

6: What is your favourite food?

That depends, really. I go through phases. Japanese food is always good. But living in the UK, I miss South African food, especially our seafood.

7: The quality you most admire in a man?


8: The quality you most admire in a woman?


9: Your favourite virtue?

Sincerity (and kindness).

10: Your favourite occupation?

Other than being a writer, I’d love to be some kind of treasure hunter. Or a marine archaeologist (I love the sea and I’m fascinated by shipwrecks). There was a time I wanted to be an architect, but I’m rubbish at maths so that would not have worked out.

11: Which crime novel do you wish you’d written?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, although it’s not a novel, it’s a remarkable book and Capote is a very good writer.

12: Your most marked characteristic?

I’m persistent, or maybe I’m just stubborn.

13: What do you most value in your friends.

Sincerity again.

14: What is your principal defect?


15: What would be the greatest of misfortunes?

Serious illness or injury.

16: What word or expression do you most overuse?

In my writing, I use even, always, and often way too much.

17: What is it you most dislike?


18: How would you like to die?

Quickly, preferably in my sleep. I don’t fancy drowning, don’t like heights and really would not ever want to be caught in a burning building. Fire is scary. Oh, and no sharks.

19: What do you most dislike about your appearance?

No, I’m not going to tell you.

20: What is your motto?

I don’t have one. How do people decide on a motto? One sentence, or idea to sum up your life, or the way you think to live it. Too simple, I think.


Please register or log in to comment