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Dead tomorrow: book review

24 June 2010

Dead Tomorrow Dead Tomorrow by Peter James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
At one level this book is a conventional whodunit, one of a series of crime novels by the same author, with Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Brighton Police as the protagonist. But, unlike many crime novels, it lacks the disclaimer that all the characters are fictitious and bear no resemblance to living persons. Some of the characters are fictitious, while others are not, and are clearly based on living persons.

While the events in the story are fictitious they are based on things that are happening in the world today, where the fastest-growing criminal industry is human trafficking. Human trafficking is defined in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime as

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above:] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above:] have been used.

The novel deals primarily with the removal of organs, and to a lesser extent with prostitution.

Kidnapping and abduction can take place in other circumstances, and often seem remote from everyday life, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been receiving neighbourhood crime reports and warnings that include the following:

Children will be extremely at risk during the period 09 June to 11 July. Parents should ensure that their children are under constant supervision and that they do not go to cinemas or shopping malls unless properly supervised. Remember that Mr. Price and Open Door Crisis Centre has safe places with trained staff at all the shopping Malls where there are Mr. Price shops.

In case anyone hasn’t noticed the period referred to above is that of the football World Cup, and there are thousands of foreign football fans in the country, and criminals wanting to prey on them and others. Special courts have been set up to bring swift justice to anyone committing crimes against foreign visitors during the World Cup, and it is interesting that most of those who have been convicted of such crimes are themselves foreigners. Transnational crime is no joke, and it is more than just an urban legend.

The point of all this is that this book is not simply a good crime novel, but also a way of learning about a form of crime that is rapidly growing in the world today. It is one that has not left South Africa untouched. The novel describes a human organ trafficking ring, and there was such a ring operating in South Africa a few years ago

At least 30 Brazilians have sold their kidneys to an international human organ trafficking ring for transplants performed in South Africa, with Israel providing most of the funding, says a legislative commission in Brazil.

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