Review of 'Past Mortem'

Past Mortem by Ben Elton

past_mortem.jpg Detective Inspector Edward Newson of the Metropolitan Police is called to investigate the murder of a wealthy, though disliked, businessman who was killed in an incredibly sadistic and unusual manner. As the investigation progresses Newson becomes convinced this murder is linked to other equally unusual murders throughout England. in his personal life, he is secretly in love with his police partner, Natasha, which is complicated when he meets up with old flames from school on school reunion web site “Friends United”. After a disturbing sexual experience with one woman from his class and her subsequent mania is a reminder than not everything is as it seems…Something that is equally true with the investigation.

If you say the name “Ben Elton” people will automatically think of his involvement with British television comedy icons such as The Young Ones and Blackadder as well as his career as a stand-up comic. You do not think of him as a writer of crime fiction but that is exactly what “Past Mortem” is. There are maybe a couple places where you might have a bit of a giggle but otherwise, this is serious, and often deeply disturbing, stuff. The murders are particularly gruesome with few details spared. Despite it being quite an unusual mystery with the killer being revealed, literally, only in the final few pages, I was able to figure out who it was quite a few pages earlier…and I don't think I am the only one here. So, despite the build up, though dramatic, the finale was more of a confirmation than revelation.

For the most part the characters are only slightly removed from reality in being a bit more extreme, but they are all interesting and, perhaps, relatable. Elton's talent as a writer is on display here as the narrative is easy to take and progresses quickly.

A good, though occasionally disturbing, light holiday read.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-06-05

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Publisher: Black Swan

Publication Date: 2004

ISBN: 0552771236