Cape Town - Fans of local crime writer Deon Meyer will be able to take a guided tour of prominent sites depicted in his best-selling books from Wednesday, when the first Deon Meyer Mystery Tour kicks off in the Mother City.
The four-hour minibus tour will take visitors to 20 locations from Meyer's books including 13 Hours and 7 days and Trackers, with the organisers promising to “unravel some of the mysteries of his stories”.
And while Meyer has no stake in the company behind the tours, he has lent it his support. “I think it is a fantastic initiative, because it supports the industry that earns the most foreign currency, and creates the most jobs in South Africa — tourism,” Meyer said this week. “I am also thrilled that my readers from all over the globe can experience the world of my books first hand, in the most beautiful city in the world.”
Deon Meyer Mystery Tours is the brainchild of Johannesburg businessman Dave Van Asche who created the tour and worked out the route with four colleagues
Van Asche said the mystery tour would visit the site of the famous chase up Lion's Head, in 13 Hours, and the location of a deadly shoot out near The Oceana Power Boat Club in Granger Bay featured in his book Trackers.
The tour will also visit sites from the books Cobra, 7 Days and Icarus. While the mystery tour is a first in guided crime fiction travel in Cape Town, visits to locations described in crime thrillers have for years been popular internationally.
In Sweden, thousands of fans of crime author Henning Mankell flock to Ystad and Malmo to retrace the haunts of detective Kurt Wallender, while devotees of Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin can go on guided walks of Edinburgh to see where detective John Rebus solved his cases.
Van Asche said he first read a Meyer thriller five years ago, when he picked up Trackers, published in 2010 at an airport bookshop while waiting for a holiday flight to the Seychelles. “I read it and it was great.” On his return to South Africa, he devoured Meyer's other works.
Van Asche said he first got the idea to visit a location described in one of Meyer's crime thrillers, when he was in Blouberg.
He remembered the opening scene in the thriller Cobra played out in a nearby dune, where a a body was discovered.
When he visited the area, he said he saw how carefully and realistically Meyer had described it.
He then started fleshing out the idea with his colleague Graham Blankenburg of a tour to other sites in Meyer's books, but they needed to involve the author. And Meyer was receptive when they ran the idea past him.
“He said great. I'll give it a try,” said Van Asche.
Meyer has often used Cape Town as a setting for his books, and the tour will wind through Granger Bay, the city centre, Lion's Head, Woodstock and Observatory.
Van Asche said he considered adding Blouberg to the schedule, but decided it was too far form the city centre.
The inaugural tour will start Wednesday at 10pm, with Van Asche as tour guide and his colleague Paul Louw as driver.
Along the way, he will play extracts from audio versions of Meyer's books to better set the scene.
Van Asche said he would also give tourists the inside scoop on how Meyer came up with some of his famous scenes, which he gleaned through interviews with the author.
The tour will also include some general history of interesting sites along the way. On each tour, one tourist will win a signed Deon Meyer book.
At the end of each month, a patron will get a book inscribed and signed by Meyer via a luck draw.
Van Asche said10 percent of tour's proceeds would be donated to the I Am Living Trust, a non profit organisation that seeks to uplift the lives of children in the Northern Cape Town in Loxton.
* Booking have opened for the first tour on Wednesday. Tickets cost R600. Visit www.deonmeyermysterytours.com for more information.