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Past Mortem [Paperback]

Ben Elton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 May 2005

With old friends like these, who needs enemies?

It's a question mild mannered detective Edward Newson is forced to ask himself when, in romantic desperation, he logs on to the Friends Reunited website in search of the girlfriends of his youth. Newson is not the only member of the Class of take back '88 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, and failing comprehensively 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.

In Past Mortem, Ben Elton - previous winner of The Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award for Popcorn - delivers both a heart-stopping thriller and a killer comic romance.

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Past Mortem + High Society + Dead Famous
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (2 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552771236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552771238
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.

He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People's Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty.

He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You.

He is married with three children.

Product Description


"Fans will love it" (Heat)

"Engaging and smartly plotted" (Observer)

"It's warm-hearted characterisation and deft pacing should make the paperback popular on next summer's beaches" (The Sunday Times)

"Past Mortem confirms Elton as craftsmanlike, thoughtful and readable. Fans will find plenty to enjoy" (Daily Mail)

"A writer who provokes almost as much as he entertains" (Daily Mail)

Book Description

The bestselling new novel from Ben Elton

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You're the best Ben 4 Aug 2005
By A Customer
I always pick 2 novels to take on my annual 2 week holiday and read one in each week ( I take my time). So this year I picked Past Mortem (along with You Are Here by Steve Horsfall). I have never read a book by Ben Elton before, but this blew me away - it's funny, touching and risque with a great comment on how the past catches us all up at some point ( centred in this case around the Friends Reunited phenomenom). The whodunnit leaves you guessing to the end. I read it in 2 days ( and You Are Here in 3). I'll need to buy more books next year!!!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Disturbing, and thoroughly absorbing. 24 Aug 2005
By Mr. D. Clark VINE VOICE
This is the book which started me reading Ben Elton again. My only previous experience of his novels had been "Gridlock" and "Stark" , which both had their moments, but were, to my mind, neither quite one thing nor the other. I was taken aback by the difference in the quality of writing between those two early novels, and this latest one. This is a one sitting book.
If you've read "Dead Famous" then its probably helpful if I tell you that "Past Mortem " does for the internet school reunion (a la Friends Reunited) phenomenon what "Dead Famous" did for the "Big Brother" phenomenon. Except that there's more murders in this, and they are far more inventive and gruesome. This is not a criticism.The different methods of the murders are essential to the narrative.
Without giving away too much of the plot, several rather horrible people are murdered. There seems to be nothing linking them, except that they have all been mentioned in messages on the Friends Reunited website.
I've already mentioned "Dead Famous" . One important difference in this story is that you are drawn far more into all the characters than in the earlier book. To be honest, I couldn't really have cared less about the three investigating detectives in the earlier novel. This is not true in "Past Mortem". All of the characters hold your interest. There is nothing slack or wasted here.
One word of warning. Of the several others of Elton's novels which I have read, I would say that , in terms of matters sexual, they are earthy, but not worryingly explicit. There is one scene in "Past Mortem" which is extremely graphic in its depiction of a sado masochistic sexual encounter.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly enjoyable read. 25 Feb 2006
By A Customer
A superb read, I could not put the book down, reading right through the night. I have tried to analyse why and how Ben Elton’s style of writing is so captivating, but I can’t tell you. By half way through the book, I had a good idea who the villain was, but there was always an element of doubt, which kept me burning the midnight oil.
There is a great interweaving of different story lines, the crimes with gruesome details, a love story, interesting characters and the sex. The sex – my father used to say
“You youngsters think you invented sex”
I’m now at the same age my fathers was when he made these remarks, and it’s true, youth must have invented sex, there are things in this book I had never dreamt of; but then again, I have lead a very sheltered life.
A truly enjoyable read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
"Past Mortem" is Ben Elton's ninth novel which was first published back in 2004. Described on the sleeve as a "heart-stopping thriller and a killer comic romance", having been written by the comedian Ben Elton, you were sure to have a fair amount of comedy within the book.

The novel reads like a black comedy version of a Shaun Hutson thriller novel, being very easy to read, delivering short fast paced chapters that end on miniature cliff hangers throughout the book. The novel follows the life of detective Edward Newson as he tries to capture a serial killer who is murdering bullies in inventive and disturbing ways. The storyline is somewhat similar to David Fincher's film Seven, yet at the same time so very far removed.

The likeable character of Newson, who was obviously based on Elton himself, keeps the novel alive with his comical view on the world, even in the face of such difficult circumstances. The running subplot of Newson's secret crush on one of his fellow colleagues and his resulting non-existent love life, makes the character so much more loveable.

The novel is slightly let down by the obvious and predictable outcome of who the killer is, which becomes apparent from quite early on. This obviously was not Elton's intention, which ruins the `twist-ending' as you will see it coming from a mile away. Still, the book is a thoroughly enjoyable read due to the well written nature of the book, and for a bit of light hearted reading, you can't go wrong with it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great thriller, but don't expect much comedy 1 Nov 2004
As a murder mystery this book is very good - easily ranking up there with most of the consumer crime novels on the shelves today. No, it isn't a comedy, but I don't think that Elton was trying to write one this time. But it is a great analysis of the long and short term effects of bullying, and it did raise a chuckle from me on occasion. This isn't a book for the faint of heart. Most of the murder scenes are described in very graphic detail but you'll realise as the story develops that this is necessary, as it is the methods of killing that becomes the focus of the plot. Yes, I did guess who the killer was about two thirds of the way through, but this is not so important because I was interested in how the book's hero, the "short-arsed ginger minger", Detective Inspector Ed Newson, would figure it out and catch the bad guy. I can highly recommend this book, but don't expect a laugh-a-minute whodunnit like Dead Famous. This is more along the lines of the social commentary of High Society and Elton demonstrates an increasingly mature style.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars quite good
Quite a good read- but to me, not as good as his previous work. Perhaps it is because it is a couple of years since I read popcorn and my taste has changed..
Published 1 day ago by ts1959
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
a great read, well crafted story with well defined characters who need follow on stories. More of same required please.
Published 2 months ago by elaine tanner
5.0 out of 5 stars Why isn't this a TV series yet?
A great book by Ben Elton. This would make a great TV series unless its been done and I missed it.
This was the first Ben Elton book I read and I have re read it several... Read more
Published 3 months ago by BALDRICK 399
5.0 out of 5 stars A whodunnit and black comedy rolled into one - brilliant
This is Ben Elton at his very best. A genuinely intriguing whodunnit written in that darkly comic style of which Ben Elton is a master. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ray Green
3.0 out of 5 stars Received with thanks
I only gave this 3 stars as i felt that 'good condition' was stretching the imagination a little. It was average at best, in my opinion.
Published 5 months ago by Simon Haigh
5.0 out of 5 stars Leads you down the path of your own preconceptions, and mugs you with...
Another thought provoking classic Ben Elton yarn, beautifully paced, genuinely intriguing and as usual sharp as a razor. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Chris Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent product
This is an excellent product and the service was also spot on, so I 100% recommend this product to everyone :)
Published 7 months ago by MR JOHN D MORRIS
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A well written book which I enjoyed very much. It is actually quite an accurate portrayal of the true things in life behind the scenes that the authorities never want disclosed to... Read more
Published 9 months ago by tracy
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read...
I have read a few of Ben's books now and have liked them all. This one is no different. It had the ability to make me laugh (some great one liners! Read more
Published 9 months ago by David Swift
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy read, but very predictable
I would not rate this as a five star book. It was an easy read for the holidays with an interesting subject. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Pavla
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