Will dental turn deadly?

A long-ago picture of a very small couch, a canine treasure and thousands of books.

A long-ago picture of a very small couch, a canine treasure and thousands of books.

Published Apr 14, 2024


Durban — Back when we had a two-pack, the couch was but a single armchair, a refuge from the TV and tense motherly challenges of raising a teen.

Our first pooch, Nitro, was a compact lab-type cross breed. He was a treasure and his favourite place was on that armchair with mom. Everything was set up to be close to hand: cup of coffee, smokes and ashtray, footrest perfectly placed and, of course, the current book. Once I had settled in, he would jump on, do a scrunched-up turn, squiggle his bum between me and the arm of the chair and rest his head on my shoulder. We just “fit”.

We had plenty of practice: I was a super-reader as defined in the story on page 7. At least three or four books a week; frequently one a day if there were fewer than 400 pages.

Fiction, non-fiction, there was almost nothing that would not be consumed. Except romance stuff: the girl-meets-boy, hate each other, forced into close proximity, fall head-over-heels, live happily ever after, didn’t cut it. But for everything else, if someone had bothered to write it, the least I could do was give it a go to the sometimes bitter end. Who knew whether there would be a mighty twist that would turn junk into gem?

Mostly, however, bad starts ended badly. As the years passed and time became measured in mortality, if it didn’t make the first 80-odd pages, it was put on the donate pile.

Sometimes this meant nearly missing out on some profoundly beautiful stories, like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It was ditched way too fast (reading is such a mood thing) and only taken up later when it was a candidate in the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize in 2007, a year I was among the judges. I groaned at being forced to read it. It won my vote and the other judges’ too, taking the Number 1 spot.

Mindful of that lesson and of mood and target audience, I “read” Lone Wolf by Gregg Hurwitz in a sitting last weekend. But it did involve loads of skipping. It’s perfect for anyone who loves the choreography of fight scenes. Long and intricate move-by-move ones. Jack Reacher meets The Equalizer and John Wick (I never made it through that first movie, never mind the many sequels).

In Lone Wolf, Evan Smoak is Orphan X, a formerly lethal government assassin who has turned his talents to helping good people in bad situations and who need his skills to rescue them.

He is facing an immensely painful personal crisis when a whelp for help (yes, it involves a dog) is made. He stumbles on a bigger problem and finds he has to save the world from a petite super-killer hired by a tech billionaire madman who, of course, is going to take over a blissfully unaware and uninformed world.

If that’s what you need to escape the fact that there are indeed mad billionaires who want to rule the world, this is an entertaining way to do it. It’s also pretty scary because the mad billionaires of whom Hurwitz writes already have a hand on the semi-fictional weapon in Lone Wolf.

No spoilers here, but don’t miss the story about the R7 000 AI toothbrush on page 8.

Who knows when dental could turn deadly?

Independent on Saturday