Tuesday, September 18, 2012

{read: South African psychological mystery} Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer

The title of this book led me to expect a plot-drive, character-light, predictable mystery with a few twists and thrills. I couldn't have been more wrong. The characters were well-developed, and it was as much an exploration of why people behave as they do when they commit crimes as it is a police procedural.

Capt. Matt Joubert is still in bad shape two years after his wife, a vice cop, was killed in the line of duty. His work has suffered, and his new supervisor has laid down some clear expectations. Not only must his work improve, but he must also become healthier, losing the weight he's gained. He's also required to see a psychiatrist. Joubert complies, although not always happily, and in the meantime tries to solve a series of murders in which seemingly unconnected people are being shot point-blank. Could it be politically related? Are the Chinese involved? A series of bank robberies may be connected, and it's up to Joubert to untangle both cases while confronting his personal demons.

The style of this reminded me of the Scandanavian authors such as Jussi Adler-Olsen, and the exploration of the psychology behind the crimes reminded me of Irish author Tana French. If you like either of these writers, I'd recommend this book.

Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer (Little, Brown and Company, 2008)
My rating: 4 stars

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