Daisy de Melker: Hiding Among Killers in the City of Gold by Ted Botha is out this month from Jonathan Ball Publishers.
A true crime classic about Daisy de Melker in ragtime Joburg—a city of murder, mayhem and gold.
Daisy de Melker will be launched in Joburg at Constitution Hill on 11 May, and in Cape Town at The Book Lounge on 17 May.
‘With excellent research, great writing and a whole parade of captivating criminal characters, Botha has created an instant classic. Much more than a fresh look at deadly Daisy, it brings to life a captivating time and place. Totally enthralling. I devoured it.’—Deon Meyer
‘Ted Botha writes about terrible things with verve and compassion. Like the city of Joburg itself, this deep-dive into the history of South Africa’s most notorious female serial killer is a shiny, gutsy, gritty, and utterly electrifying thing.’—Lauren Beukes
Ted Botha takes the reader into the underbelly of Johannesburg in the nineteen-twenties and thirties as he traces the fascinating story of the mysterious Daisy de Melker, who was hanged for poisoning her son. Many also believed she poisoned two husbands for their life insurance money.
In the shadow of ever-growing mine dumps, she went about her business quietly and unnoticed—the most unlikely of killers. Even though people close to her kept dying, no one suspected a thing for twenty years. When someone finally spoke up, it led to one of South Africa’s most sensational trials.
De Melker’s story unfolds in tandem with those of colourful Johannesburg characters of the same period such as the Foster Gang, Herman Charles Bosman, the dashing conman Baron von Veltheim and a Bonny-and-Clyde-style couple, Dicky Mallalieu and Gwen Tolputt. Some cross paths with each other and also those of famous writers of era such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sarah Gertrude Millin.
About the author
Ted Botha grew up between Washington DC and Pretoria. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and was an editor for Reuters in Manhattan. His books include The Girl with the Crooked Nose and Flat/White, about living in a crazy tenement in Manhattan.