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Who Killed Piet Barol?

A novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A haunting, gloriously imagined novel by the acclaimed author of History of a Pleasure Seeker (“a classic” —The Washington Post), set in early twentieth-century colonial Cape Town, and a forest full of witch doctors, stingless bees, and hungry leopards.

It is 1914. Germany has just declared war on France. Piet Barol was a tutor before he came to South Africa, his wife, Stacey, an opera singer. In Cape Town they are living the high life, impersonating French aristocrats—but their lies are catching up with them.

The Barols’ furniture business is on the verge of collapse. They need top-quality wood, and they need it cheap. Piet enlists two Xhosa [pron. KO-sa] men to lead him into a vast forest, in search of a fabled tree.

The Natives Land Act has just abolished property rights for the majority of black South Africans, and whole families have been ripped apart. Piet’s guides have their own reasons to lead him through the trees, and to keep him alive while he’s useful to them.

Far from the comforting certainties of his privileged existence, Piet finds the prospect of riches beyond measure—and the chance to make great art. He is sure he’ll be able to buy what he needs for a few glass trinkets. But he’s underestimating the Xhosa, who believe the spirits of their ancestors live in this sacred forest.

Battle lines are drawn. When Piet’s powers of persuasion fail him, he resorts to darker, more dangerous talents to get what he is determined to have. As the story moves to its devastating conclusion, every character becomes a suspect, and Piet’s arrogance and guile put him on a collision course with forces he cannot understand and that threaten his seemingly enchanted existence.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 17, 2016 – In an ambitious tale of colonial greed set in South Africa in the first days of World War I, Mason reprises Piet Barol, the handsome, charismatic scoundrel who anchored his previous novel, History of a Pleasure Seeker. The Dutch Barol, an ersatz French vicomte and talented furniture designer living on the thinnest of margins, and his American wife, Stacey, who has secrets of her own, seek to make their fortune turning out exquisite pieces for the nouveau riche in Cape Town. Barol, assisted by the young Xhosa men Ntsina Zini and Luvo Yako, who consider Barol and the other whites the Strange Ones, treks deep into the Xhosa homeland to harvest the revered Ancestor Trees near Gwadana, Ntsina's village. Barol's isolation and his growing obsession with the trees take a toll on his relationship with his wife and son. Ntsina also has dreams for the future, including marriage to the beautiful young Gwandan Bela, though a confrontation between Ntsina and his witch doctor grandmother and his violent father threatens to destroy the family. With echoes of Paul Theroux's Mosquito Coast, Mason unspools a story rich in detail and populated with deeply flawed characters whose lives intersect in the once-pristine forest that inspires acts sacred and profane. Mason handles multiple story lines with the lan of a seasoned raconteur.
Who Killed Piet Barol?
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jan 24, 2017
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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