Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

A Review/interview

Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

A Review/interview

Article excerpt



Dr. Clare Hart is a thirty-something investigative reporter with a doctorate in criminal psychology and currently immersed in her research work for a documentary about the trafficking of women through Africa. She is also a specialist in the tracking of murderers and rapists, and the South African Police Service sometimes hires her for her profiling expertise.

When the body of a pretty teenager is found, sadistically murdered and displayed grotesquely on the beachfront, Captain Rediwaan Faizal asks Clare's assistance to find the killer. When the body of a second young woman is found a few days later in almost the same spot, Clare and Rediwaan know for sure that Cape Town has a serial murderer on the loose and that it will just be a matter of time before he kills again.

Like Clockwork is a crime thriller that takes the reader into the lucratively misogynist parts of South Africa's most beautiful city-the city (rather ironically) that is affectionately known as the country's "Mother City." The following is an interview with the author.

Moira Richards: Hi, Margie, I spent an entire Saturday reading Like Clockwork and found it an un-put-downable and thoroughly enjoyable whodunit. The novel received similar reviews in the South African press, but I think, too, that there is a lot more to it than the fast-paced serialcrime story.

I felt while reading this novel, a sense of... pollutedness encroaching on me. Perhaps this was because I am a woman, I don't know. I noticed too that your protagonist, the police profiler Clare Hart, was narrated many, many times taking a shower.

Margie Orford: I am glad that the book kept you out of trouble for a whole Saturday. I often feel tainted, corrupted, by how violent our society is-and yes, this is a way of cleansing. I always have thought of rape victims who are told not to shower or wash after an assault. Their skin must crawl with the traces of their attacker.

Clare's apartment, too, is a haven, almost a cloister. So washing is a way of cleansing. It is also a way, I think, of keeping herself separate. It is not always easy to keep a perspective-because rape (and murder, obviously) completely negates the humanity of the other person (the victim); it is hard to be surrounded by so many raped women and not feel that dehumanization happening to you by association.

MR: I am a seasoned and bloodthirsty whodunit reader, yet as I read through Like Clockwork I found myself unusually drawn into, involved with, and angered by the killings in this book. Your biographical note mentions that Like Clockwork was inspired by the research you did for an article on the trafficking of women for South Africa's sex industry. You seem to have made from an escapist genre, a hard-hitting story of crime?

MO: This book was born out of anger-I had done a lot of journalist research into sex crimes, sex work, trafficking rape survivors. And I needed somewhere to put it all-hence the book. I think that is where the spookiness comes from-that I was and remain very angry about what happens. I also wanted to explore how the abuse of women is legitimized-"normalized" is maybe a better word-by its ubiquity.

Violence against women is something that bothers me very much. But I also want to understand it-what does it feel like to have it happen to you; what does it feel like to live with it for years and years; how does one become so used to it. But most of all I wanted to know why people do it. It is obviously an enjoyable pastime for fun, crucial to a certain trope of masculinity, a stress release, a route to power, to desire and bliss.

I was interested, as a novelist, in that moment of violence. In what it feels like to have it done to you, and what it feels like to do it. There is something very compelling about the license to do what you like because you can. …

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