Tangled Web UK Review June 1999
File Updated: 30/03/00
Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer
pbk out April 99 (Coronet) at 5.99
Mat Joubert is a South African cop who has lost his faith in himself, in his job and in his life. He doesn't even care enough to kill himself except by the slow suicide of drinking, smoking and eating too much. But a new chief of detectives, a political appointment, arrives with a new broom just as a serial killer starts a career that throws Cape Town into a turmoil of fear. Added to that are the first stirrings of desire Mat has felt since the traumatic death of his wife, a fellow cop. Offered one last chance, he seizes it with both hands, even agreeing to see a psychotherapist in a bid to deal with the issues that have turned him from crack cop to walking problem. As he battles against a ruthless killer who leaves no clues behind, Mat also battles with his own demons.
One of the first thrillers to reach us from the new South Africa, Dead Before Dying is both a portrait of a society in change and the interior life of a troubled but essentially decent man, written with wit and insight. But more than that, it's a genuinely gripping page-turner whose shocking revelations hit the reader with real surprise.

( Val McDermid - Gold Dagger winner & creator of Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan & Tony Hill)