Saturday, July 9, 2011

Roger Smith's "Dust Devils"

Roger Smith was born in Johannesburg and now lives in Cape Town. His debut thriller, Mixed Blood (2009), was published in six countries and won the Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Prize). His second book, Wake Up Dead (2010), was a 10 best pick of the Philadelphia Enquirer, Times (South Africa) and Krimiwelt (Germany) and was nominated for the German Krimi-Blitz Reader’s Award. Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead were nominated for Spinetingler Magazine New Voice Awards in the U.S. and both books are in development as feature films.

Here he shares his take on the stars of an adaptation of his third book, Dust Devils:
It’s ironic that you ask me this about Dust Devils, because it is my only book not to be in development as a feature film (although, happily, there is real interest.) Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead are destined for the big screen, and as Dust Devils shares a character with Mixed Blood, Zulu investigator Disaster Zondi who’ll be played by Samuel L. Jackson in that movie, let’s cast Mr Jackson in Dust Devils, too.

Zondi is an urban sophisticate, living in the sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg, an enclave of privilege surrounded by encroaching ghettoes, very far from his birthplace, the rural Zulu valley he fled as a youth. Zondi’s boss and mentor made the mistake of investigating the corrupt minister of justice, and his investigative unit has been disbanded and Zondi is on the loose – and when a mysterious wedding invite is faxed to him, he is drawn back to his birthplace and the ghosts of his past. Samuel L. would lay his trademark veneer of cool over the already chilly Zondi.

In a parallel-narrative, ex-political activist Robert Dell’s wife and children are murdered and he is framed for their killing – sending him on the run. Viggo Mortensen would be perfect to play the one-time pacifist who picks up a gun, becoming everything he hates to avenge what he loves.

Dell’s only ally is his oldest enemy: his father, an ex-CIA hitman. Bobby Goodbread, a Texan who married a South African, has just been released from prison for crimes he committed in the employ of the apartheid regime. Dying of cancer and desperate for redemption, Goodbread leads his son into the heart of darkness, hunting the real killer. Kris Kristofferson, with his gravely voice and the roadmap of wrinkles around those flinty eyes, would be the man to play Goodbread. He’d have to crop his hair short, though. I wonder if he’d oblige?

The toxic glue binding Dust Devils is Inja “Dog” Mazibuko, a Zulu warlord in the employ of the minister of justice, who killed Dell’s family at the command of his master. Inja is about to take his third wife in a traditional marriage, a teenage girl who may or may not be Disaster Zondi’s daughter. Surprisingly, the British actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, comes to mind to play Inja. Ejiofor is a handsome, urbane, man, but I’d love to see him play Inja Mazibuko, as nasty a character as I have ever written: a killer of women and children who rules his dusty fiefdom with an AK-47 in his hand.
Watch the Dust Devils trailer, and learn more about the book and author at Roger Smith's website.

Read about Roger Smith's top 10 crime novels.

The Page 69 Test: Mixed Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Wake Up Dead.

Writers Read: Roger Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue