Dead Before Dying (Mat Joubert #1) by Deon Meyer: 4****

Dead Before Dying

One of the leading authors in South Africa, Deon Meyer has been writing for over 25 years and is the top crime/thriller writer from that country (if not the world). Deon began as a journalist before his transformation into a best selling author. His books has been translated into over 20 languages, and he also has written works for TV & Film.

I am a big Deon Meyer fan and I try to read his books in order of publication, and his is one of his earlier efforts and brings us two characters, one who has faded and one who has become a star of his books. This book features Captain Mat Joubert who is still reeling more than 2 years after his wife (also a police officer) was killed on assignment. He has left himself go, gained weight, drinks and smokes too much, has gotten sloppy in his work when into his life come two cases, plus a new demanding boss. The boss demands all of his officers get in shape and he gives them deadlines to lose weight, as well as informing Joubert he must see a psychologist. This is on top of a serial murder spree that seems to have no connecting links to each murder, along with a series of bank robberies at Premier Bank branches in which a gun, similar to that used in the murders is used to intimidate the bank tellers, and in which each incident the robber uses a different disguise. And who does Joubert eventually assign to this case? Future lead character Benny Griessel! Griessel catches your attention from his very entry in the book and it is easy to understand why he became the focus of future books. This book is well plotted, with lots of interesting characters, and while not focusing as much on South Africa as in his other books, this is a really fine read led by Captain Joubert who has to solve his own demons in order to finally resolve the serial killings. Top Notch early effort by Meyer! 

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