Thursday, September 6, 2012

BOOK: Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer

Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer, 411 pages


Thesis: Deon Meyer is my new favorite crime mystery writer. 

Supporting arguments:
1. Having mysteries set in South Africa is a unique locale, with the added layer of the racial conflicts and plenty of political conflicts.

2. Great characters!  I like that Meyer has several characters (Benny Griessel, Mat Joubert, Lemmer) that populate his books, and they are all connected, but may not appear in each book. This book was the first Mat Joubert book, with a dash of Benny, previously seen in Devil's Peak, and Thirteen Hours. I read about Joubert in Trackers, but it was his second book.

3. Police procedurals. I am often drawn to mysteries that are more subtlety labeled police procedurals. Beginning with Ed McBain's 87th precinct, up to the Iceland mysteries, and the Swedish Martin Beck books, I like reading mysteries from the police point of view.

4. Twists and turns. Meyer moves the story around, from plenty of perspectives, and new clues appear suddenly. I never have a clue who or what is going on.

5. The classic messed up cop. Joubert is barely coming out of the two year fog after his wife was killed. He is depressed, ruining his job chances, and basically a disturbed individual, like many of the good cops I like to read about. (Louise Penny's Inspector Gamauche is a lone exception to the disturbed cop) And Joubert is more together than Benny - what a mess he is! He spends much of this book in detox.

6. I still have a few older books left to read - Blood Safari, Dead at Daybreak, and Heart of the Hunter. And more excitedly, a new book: Seven Days. I just got it in the mail, and can't wait to read it. It's a new Benny Griessel.

7. The whole package - plot, character, atmosphere, great writing, great conflict. Incidentally, great translating as well, because the English version is very smooth. These are the kind of books that I can't put down, and each one that I've read has been excellent.

Conclusion: Deon Meyer is the mystery writer that you need to read if you are a fan of twisty, fast moving, police thrillers.