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Past Mortem Paperback – May 1, 2005
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From the Inside Flap
With old friends like these, who needs enemies?
It's a question, short, mild mannered detective Edward Newson is forced to ask himself having, in romantic desperation, logged on to the Friends Reunited website searching for the girlfriends of his youth. Newson is not the only member of the Class of '86 who has been raking over the ashes of the past. As his old class begins to reassemble in cyberspace, the years slip away and old feuds and passions burn hot once more.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Newson's life is no less complicated. He is secretly in love with Natasha, his lovely but very attached sergeant, while comprehensively failing to solve a series of baffling and peculiarly gruesome murders. A school reunion is planned and as history begins to repeat itself, the past crashes headlong into the present. Neither will ever be the same again. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Elton tends to take a particular social or environmental issue, and then uses a story to barrage the reader with his trendy and enlightened perspective. Usually he gets away with this - his stories can make a rollicking good read, and the underlying social commentary can be stimulating and thought-provoking.
But in this book I was bored. The social issue he's taken on is bullying, and I really don't need to be told the bleeding obvious - bullying is bad, it's effects are long-lasting, and we should all feel guilty because at one point we watched it happen to someone else and didn't do anything. OK, I get the point Ben, you can stop repeating it. I enjoy it more when he tackles the genuinely contentious issues - "High Society" being my definite favourite.
It isn't a great whodunnit either. I'm not particularly cluey with these things, but here I could pick the murderer as soon as [he or she] was introduced. The trail of bodies gets tedious when you're just waiting for the main character to figure it out.
On the plus side, I enjoyed the school reunion and all of the apsects of revisiting the past. He conjured up the memories of being a teenager in the 80's very well. If he only explored that whole area more I would have had a better reading experience.
Edward Newson is both on the case of brutal murder as well has his lonely, uneventful life. He lives day by day trying to track down the killer whilst mulling over his junior partner he secretly love, and by night attempts to track down an old girlfriend of his youth over the internet on Friends Reunited. As the story progresses, the killer strikes again, and Edwards old class comes together, "old feuds and passions burn fiercely again."
This is not a novel for the faint heart due to the gory content and extreme sex-capades Ben Elton has added to the book. But it is an easy read, the writing driving head first into the story and not wasting time with bland description, keeping the book to 300 odd pages but 300 pages of worth while story and character development.
Ben Elton is one of the finest writers of this age.
Having read all of his books (with the exception of STARK would you believe!) I continue to be engrossed in them. They all flow with the same fluid 'not reading but watching tele' ease.
Past Mortem is no exception and it is truely a book you cant put down. The sex scene with Ed and Helen had me in stitches. Rather than a turn on, Elton turned it into a hilarious chapter. Ed fumbling 'oh...ok' to a rather bizzare request had me rolling!
Yes, there are gruesome details but in the hands of Ben Elton those details do not so much as shock but add to the colour of the story. In any other crime writers hands, the way the murders were committed would be shocking to the point of sick.
The only gripe I have about the book is the ending. It did get very predictable and you cant help but know who the killer is. There are so many clues it becomes too obvious. Infact, it becomes so obvious you begin to wonder if its actually not that character at all. The ending is also weak. The plot to catch the killer is weak and rushed. The end is over way too soon.
But dont let that put you off in the slightest. Its one of his best. I do kind of miss 'wrrrick' though!
If you're an Elton fan, you'll already know that his "formula" relies on taking a controversial issue, and presenting it to us sideways, through the eyes of some unforgettable characters. In previous novels, he's dealt with drugs, the environment, and traffic, (High Society, Stark, Gridlock) and they were all great reads.
In this novel he slips up, because the "issue" he chooses is bullying -- which of course is an issue that no-one "disagrees" on. Unlike drugs or the environment or even driving around in cars, we all agree that bullying is bad and should be stopped. Elton has stepped away from his winning formula, and the results are substandard.
Not even Elton's trademark quirky characters can save the story, his "socially inept but brilliant detective" and his "emotionally damaged but brilliant social worker" are straight from central casting.
And then there's the "crime novel" format. If you haven't guessed "whodunnit" by page 130, then quite honestly you're not paying attention. Out of the twenty-two people I know who've read the novel (the members of two book groups) only one didn't guess who the serial killer was well before the end. Guessing the ending completely destroys the last half of the book, and makes finishing it a chore.
I enjoy Ben Elton's work -- I'll buy his next novel if it's not another attempt at crime fiction -- but this one's a predictable and preachy bore.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great work by Ben Elton as always. So good that I bought the kindle version despite having the paperbackPublished 3 months ago by andy marshall
Easy enjoyable holiday read. The usual successful Elton formula!Published 11 months ago by Eleanor Steyn
Only Ben Elton can take such a far flung concept and make it so dam plausible that you know somewhere down the line we will find out he was writing fiction. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Hughie
A good "holiday read" beats a movie in so many ways. A movie usually lasts a mere 2 hours, while a novel routinely quadruples the duration of pleasure. Read morePublished 14 months ago by stephen.digby
Be prepared for the gritty language, but I so enjoy how Elton satirizes the things we read, view, take-in - he's number one for me as a social commentator with a satiric twist.Published 21 months ago by Vanessa R. Barditzky
I love Ben Elton and this book proved to be no exception! A highly enjoyable read - particularly for those with a predilection for 80s music!Published on January 29, 2014 by Rebecca Fellows
I'm not really a big reader but I read this book while on holiday and it was easy to read and very enjoyable. Read morePublished on August 4, 2013 by yoinkster
I did really enjoy this book in the end but I took a while to get into it. About half way through the book I was beginning to get absorbed in the story and worked out who the... Read morePublished on June 5, 2013 by Lina