Cyber thriller born in bay

Peter Church.
Crackerjack was conceived by Constantia author Peter Church while on the way to their family holiday home at Fynbosstrand, near Stillbaai, in December 2010. Since then there have been many rewrites. 

Karen Watkins asked him to tell us more about this novel, the third in the Dark Video trilogy.

Tell us, briefly, what the story is about.

A Cape Town CEO fails to pick up his son from school one Friday. A few days later his car is found at the bottom of Chapman’s Peak Drive and $20m (R28.8m) is missing from his company’s overseas accounts. Three months later, the police are no closer to solving the riddle. An associate, Carla Vitale, does not believe he stole the money and fled. She turns to the one person she believes can help: software hacker turned day-trader Daniel le Fleur, and they team up to solve the mystery.

Can this be read as a standalone novel or is it best to read Dark Video and Bitter Pill beforehand?

It was published by Catalyst Press in North America as a standalone novel. There are characters that feature in Dark Video and Bitter Pill, but it is not a disadvantage if you read Crackerjack first. Dark Video and Bitter Pill have been re-released in South Africa and are due for release in North America next year.

Who is your target market?

I don’t write with a target market in mind. I think Crackerjack will appeal to all ages from 18 and older, especially to lovers of thrillers. I hope to attract new readers to the genre.

What research went into the book – particularly cybercrime but also the places, music and artworks?

I have a computer science background and draw on that knowledge and contacts in the industry for ideas. I based the action in places I know well. I spent many hours at Bali Bay on the Atlantic Seaboard to develop the background for Le Fleur’s residence.

My wife Paula is an artist and helped me to describe Daniel le Fleur’s painting pastime. And the music, Counting Crows, Pearl Jam, are old favourites.

Are the characters based on people you know or your alter ego?

My characters are not based on any one person I know, but rather on pieces of everyone I have ever met. Sometimes someone will say something and I’ll think: That’s exactly what Daniel le Fleur would have said.

Are you working on another book?

Yes, a few. One is a murder mystery set in Mauritius. I spent time in Mauritius for business between 2000 and 2007. I’ve also sketched plans for a follow up to Crackerjack.