They’re psychopaths, violent offenders, drug addicts, sexual deviants and social misfits. And these are the good guys. In the notorious military camp known as The Vault, they are considered unfit to wear the South African Defence Force uniform. As part of a brutal rehabilitation programme they become the experimental toys of a rogue psychiatrist. Into this macabre world conscript Lloyd Norton wanders innocently due to a clerical error. He will never be the same again.
The novel, based on the real apartheid-era camp Greefswald, not only rips open an all but forgotten chapter in a chilling history, but also tells a gripping rites-of-passage story.
This is a gripping tale that brings to light the true horrors of what a clerical error could cause a young man during the Apartheid’s era. Lloyd Norton, who was sent to a military camp for the broken, bad, and otherwise unwanted soldiers of the military, as a clerk for Major Kruger, winds up in the barracks with the ‘moffies’, ‘druggies’ and ‘conscientious objectors’ to be rehabilitated according to what the government of the time thought was ‘adequate’. As a result, Lloyd becomes just as broken as the rest of them when Doctor Levin gets his hands on them. The problem is, nobody can quite remember what exactly happened during those days. Nobody, except Robert, one of Lloyd’s primary school friends who was there as a medic during the time. Slowly, they piece together what really happened while Doctor Levin, the psychologist who was in control of the so-called rehabilitation program, is on trial. Will they finally get to the truth?
I found this book to be heavy, in the sense of it’s difficult to read without remembering that this type of stuff really did happen back in the day. It’s hard to know that most of the people responsible for these heinous acts were never brought to justice, and it’s even worse to think that the result of their ‘experiments’ screwed up quite a few people. Of course, the book is fantastic and paints a picture of old South Africa and the new South Africa wonderfully with words. A lot of Afrikaans words are used every now and again, but it won’t hinder the reading too much (just keep your Google translate open if you’re unsure of a phrase). Most of all, the plot will have you turning the pages to get to the end and then you’ll be asking yourself: “When’s the next Gordon Torr book coming out?”.
Gordon Torr has a wonderful voice as a writer, and his descriptions are exceptional. In other words, yes, this book is memorable.