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Paroled, he finds himself with no money and no family. And no knife in his hand. He gets a job as a gardener at the luxurious home of a prominent lawyer and makes an unexpected friend--Cindy, the lawyer's six-year-old daughter. When Ishmael discovers that Cindy is being raped by her father he must choose: abandon the girl and walk away, or do what he does best.

Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , 97 pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Ishmael Toffee , please sign up. Does anybody want to sell Ishmael Toffee Roger Smith to me, please? I am in Pretoria. Book can be sent by Post Office. See 1 question about Ishmael Toffee…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. May 01, Tania rated it liked it Shelves: , suspense.

A local magazine recently published a list of South Africa's top crime writers and it included Roger Smith. I decided to start with this page novella to see if I enjoyed his writing. I'm not sure that enjoy would be the correct word to describe my feelings about Ishmael Toffee. Well written, I finished this book in one sitting, but it was also one of the most disturbing books I've read. I think this is probably because the violence forms an almost mundane part of the story.

And ev 3. And even though I was rooting for Ishmael, the author threads through constant reminders of his murderous past, which makes for very uncomfortable reading. The Story: Ishmael Toffee has just been released from Pollsmoor prison after serving twenty years for multiple murders. Paroled, he returns The Flats, the massive ramshackle shanty at the edge of Cape Town and starts work a gardener in a rich, white household. The young daughter asks for help. She is being sexually abused by the father, hence the suicide of her mother a few months previously.

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View all 3 comments. Sep 03, Richard rated it really liked it Recommended to Richard by: Paul. Shelves: crime-mystery-thriller , afrocentric , novellas , reads , noir-contemporary , globe-trotting , author-roger-smith. This tale follows the title character, a career hitter for local Cape Town gangs. He and his knife have been doing good work for about 30 years, 20 of those behind bars, killing efficiently and without remorse.


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Then one day, he just doesn't want to do it anymore. Maybe you can call it rehabilitation, or maybe you can just call it a simple mid-life crisis. He discovers a love for gardening and is soon paroled. Suddenly in a new, tough outside world that's moved on since he's left it, he tries his This tale follows the title character, a career hitter for local Cape Town gangs. Suddenly in a new, tough outside world that's moved on since he's left it, he tries his best to stay out of trouble But trouble finds him after he takes a job pulling weeds in a rich lawyer's yard, and befriends the man's 6-year-old daughter.

Ishmael soon finds another reason to take up a knife after discovering that the lawyer takes nightly trips into his daughter's bed at night. I had a hard time reading about some of the violence and terror inflicted upon children, but the struggle that Ishmael goes through to do the right thing, and his relationship with little Cindy, kept me reading.

It's tightly paced and nerve-wracking. The author never makes the big mistake of apologizing for Ishmael's terrible past or asking us to forgive him..

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Instead he just asks that we believe in rehabilitation. The book also includes a bonus short story called "Falling," another hard-hitting story of the struggle for redemption. In this one, the main character is a cinematographer which is what I do for a career, so I got a kick outta that!

I had never heard of this author before. Thank you to Goodreader Paul for recommending this and helping me discover that this writer has a bunch of thrillers set in inner city Cape Town that sound really intriguing! Time to add another writer to the to-read list! But his novels might not be for the faint of heart View 2 comments.

Former gang banger and prison assassin turned civilian and gardener for the rich , Ishmael Toffee doesn't get the opportunity to live life on the outside for long before his talents are called upon. This time round, it's not some gang beef that has him reaching for his blood encrusted tradition, rather, 6yr old Cindy, the victim of a father who loves his daughter in all the inappropriate ways.

This is a powerful novella. It's noir filled with heart-warming and heartbreaking moments. Ishmael and C Former gang banger and prison assassin turned civilian and gardener for the rich , Ishmael Toffee doesn't get the opportunity to live life on the outside for long before his talents are called upon. Ishmael and Cindy are beautifully written, their connection hard to miss, their shared struggle sure to consume the reader throughout.

Author Roger Smith manages to capture the hearts and mind of his readers in a tightly bundled package and never fails to hold them until the last word is read. With the central character being a seemingly reformed ex-con, and the home of a rich South African man the place-setting, this had the hallmarks of a typical bad guy goes bad again yet Smith delivers an emotionally gripping tale that deals with sexual abuse, kindness, typecasts, poverty, and deep characterisation many would struggle to achieve in longer formats.


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  4. Essential reading. View 1 comment. Shelves: review. Thank god that ebooks have brought the novella back to life by creating a market for titles like this one. I started reading this on my commute home with no intent of finishing it the same evening--but it's that kind of book: you'll read it even though you had other plans. Ishmael Toffee is a blistering thrill ride that grabs you with its talons and won't let go. With its setting in the slums and suburbs of Cape Town and fresh characters delineated crisply, this story doesn't waste one word.

    Nex Thank god that ebooks have brought the novella back to life by creating a market for titles like this one. Next time you feel tempted to watch some warmed-over recycled attempt at noir on cable or Netflix, plunk down a few bucks for Ishmael Toffee instead. It's better noir than I've seen on screen in years, yet only takes about two hours to read.

    It's a better thriller than works four times its length. Roger Smith is one helluva writer, and this work crackles with the same kind of energy as Jim Thompson or Richard Stark at their mad best. Feb 29, Ed rated it it was amazing. This is a fast-paced, powerful noir novella about Ishmael Toffee, a contract killer who one decides he's had enough of the grisly trade and takes up gardening.

    After he's paroled, he gets hired by a rich white man who does bad things to his six-year-old daughter Cindy. Ishmael takes angry exception to that injustice, and things unravel in blood fashion from there. The vivid gritty descriptions add to the novella's considerable appeal.

    Jan 25, Col rated it really liked it Shelves: s , Ishmael Toffee's knife put him behind bars and kept him there for twenty years as a prison gang assassin until he lost his taste for blood. Despite the abolition of apartheid in South Africa there are still divisions and fractures in the country today.

    The divide seems to be more a matter of economics In Ishmael Toffee, we have a protagonist who is a product of his environment. Illiterate and impoverished, attracted into a life of gang violence for which he has been serving hard time in Pollsmoor. Sick of his past actions he has turned away from violence to a more productive peaceful life inside, growing plants in the prison garden. Now out on parole, Toffee is given an opportunity as a gardener for a rich, white lawyer Goddard. Ishmael tries to help Cindy without resorting to the violence of his past. This admirable aim is quickly compromised and his redemption can only be realised in the eyes of a little girl, and by recourse to his previous behaviour.

    Overall I really enjoyed it. There were no major surprises, I felt as the tale unfolded.

    Ishmael Toffee by Roger Smith

    So whilst there was an element of predictability about the outcome, as soon as the abuse became apparent I enjoyed it nonetheless. Not quite as much as I enjoyed his full length work though. Sep 22, Nigel Bird rated it it was amazing. Was drawn in by the voice and the subject immediately.

    Whilst watching his back in the cells, he discovered a new freedom in the form of gardening, a new connection with the earth and the way things might be. For me Smith is turning into a must-read author. I'd probably enjoy reading his shopping list! Col, you do have me interested in this author.

    Normally, I would say this is too gritty for my tastes, and checking out Margot's piece on Dust Devils, still sounds that way. But both of you make his writing sound good and I do want to read more about different countries.

    Monday, March 05, 2012

    I will be on the lookout for books by this author. Tracy, I think gritty is right, but if you can I'd check out at least one of his books. It might be to your liking, if it isn't we'll blame Margot! Ishmael Toffee's knife put him behind bars and kept him there for twenty years as a prison gang assassin until he lost his taste for blood. Paroled, he finds himself with no money and no family. And no knife in his hand. He gets a job as a gardener at the luxurious home of a prominent lawyer and makes an unexpected friend--Cindy, the lawyer's six-year-old daughter.

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