Review – Who Killed Piet Barol? – Richard Mason


Another snag from the “New Fiction” section at the library. I was intrigued by the question mark on the title and assumed this meant it would be a mystery, and I was in the mood for a little mystery. I’ve also rarely been disappointed by a book with a green cover. I probably just jinxed myself.

(For the record: this experience reminded me of one I had years ago with a book titled “Pandora in the Congo” by Albert Sánchez Piñol – one of my favorite books ever. And yes, that one, too, had a green cover.)


What a tale! Seriously. Set in South Africa in the early-1900s, this book is less mystery and more adventure, telling the story of furniture-maker Piet Barol (and family) as they try to swindle everyone (though Piet would argue against such a claim…) in hopes of finding cheap wood and, with it, their fortune.

Mason crafted great story, telling it from the perspective of a number of different characters (probably 7, if not more). He weaved into the story some pretty important themes, too, including native customs, colonialism, and native rights.

Though I almost stopped reading the book at one point (one particular part of the story was really heavy, though important), I was glad I pushed through to the end. Plus, I think this almost-occurance speaks to Mason’s ability to paint a vivid picture throughout the book.

Favorite Quotes

“Like many of the ladies to whom Frank Albemarle addressed endearments, the lorry did not respond. She just got on with the job.”

“It is said in many tongues that nature will have her vengance on those who injure her.”

ac Thinks

Read it! I was so caught up in the story. Every time that I opened the book, I was transported to the jungle (or forest?) of South Africa. Read if:

  • You like fast-paced adventure tales
  • Colonial Africa settings and/or themes are of interest
  • You need a great book for a week-long vacation (seriously, this would be the perfect vacation book!)

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