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Dead Before Dying [Mass Market Paperback]

Deon Meyer


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Book Description

Feb. 1 2008
Mat Joubert was one of the rising stars of the South African police force, a cop on the fast-track to the future. Not only that; to his eternal incomprehension - and despite chronic ineptness around the opposite sex - he had managed to marry a fascinating, beautiful and intelligent woman. A rosy future beckoned. Then she was killed, and with her his hopes and his career gradually died. Alcoholic, overweight and depressed, he is frittering away his life. But now, there is a new killer in town, one who strikes with terrifying randomness - the method is bizarre and the motive inexplicable. Mat is drawn into the case and he soon starts to realise that this could very well be his last chance to lay the ghosts of his past.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

South African journalist Meyer's first novel, his third to be released in the U.S. (after 2005's Dead at Daybreak), is a gritty existential tale with enough muscle for thriller fans and noir aficionados alike. Mat Joubert, a 34-year-old Cape Town detective, has slipped into a downward spiral two years after his wife, a fellow cop, is killed in the line of duty. Complicating matters is his newly appointed boss, Bart de Wit, a bureaucrat determined to make a name for himself in the "new" South Africa, who sends Joubert to a shrink for counseling. Joubert's opportunity at redemption comes as he investigates a bizarre series of murders committed with a century-old Mauser pistol used by the Afrikaners in the Boer war. The killer even uses vintage cartridges. Trouble is, the murders appear to be completely random and unrelated. As Joubert closes in on the killer, the plot takes an unexpected turn that will shock readers. While not up to the standard of his later Dead at Daybreak, this remains a bold, character-driven page-turner. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Hulking police captain Mat Joubert is near suicidal after the death of his wife, who was killed in the line of duty as an undercover agent. Now he's living in a kind of purgatory, an overweight chain-smoker who is inattentive to his work in the Cape Town Murder and Robbery Department. A new commanding officer, a political appointee, is on a tear, touting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. He orders Joubert to see a psychiatrist and gives him one last chance to prove himself, putting him in charge of an investigation into a serial killer who uses a 100-year-old German handgun. Joubert desperately races to find a connection among the victims, a case the newspapers are reveling in, which, in turn, increases the pressure to solve it. Meanwhile, in prosaic fashion, Joubert struggles to bring himself back to life by chucking the cigarettes, cooking low-cal meals, and taking up swimming. Meyer subtly juxtaposes the heartbreak of the victims' families with the heartbroken detective assigned to their cases. Using humor and pathos in equal measure, Meyer builds a deeply moving portrait of a man in search of his own dignity, reclaiming his life one pool lap at a time. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb police procedural May 5 2006
By Larry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is a certain common format in the writing of a British police procedural novel. The main protagonist, whether he is a chief inspector or detective inspector, are all complex creations full of angst with a whole host of personal issues. Over the course of a series these issues will be confronted and hopefully resolved. The murder or crime is almost peripheral to the characters. The reader is drawn in by these very realistically portrayed characters and can't wait to visit with them again. After all, it is not the crime the reader recalls, it is usually whether the main protagonist stopped drinking or left his wife that is most pressing. The whole host of supporting and minor characters, as well as the locale, give these books their full richness. Examples include the superb books of Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson, Reginald Hill, Elizabeth George, Stephen Booth or the historical novels of Charles Todd. Add to these highly regarded authors the South African writer, Deon Meyer, who writes very much in the vein of the contemporary British police procedural.

Captain Mat Joubert of Capetown, South Africa, has several problems he must solve. First of all, there is a polite bandit holding up the Premier Banks. He always compliments the bank clerks as he is robs them. Second, and more pressing, is the seemingly random murders of various men in town -- all killed by an old German handgun. On top of this, Joubert must cope with the recent loss of his wife, Lara, and his new boss who wants Joubert to straighten himself out or look for another job.

DEAD BEFORE DYING is a very impressive work because the characters are so carefully and realistically created. But do not pick up this book if you are expecting a fast read. It is not a thriller. It is, rather, a book to be read slowly and savored. The plot is complex enough to keep the readers wondering until the very end. The locale is somewhat sketchily detailed, but the richly portrayed characters easily make up for that. Interestingly, the book is translated from the Afrikaans language. I met Deon and he speaks perfect English! Go figure. DEAD BEFORE DYING is the third of Meyer's works to be published in the U.S. This is a strongly recommended work.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll enjoy! May 23 2006
By Armchair Interviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Captain Mat Joubert of Murder and Robbery in Cape Town, South Africa is a tormented man. Two years ago his wife Lara, also with the police department, died--and since that time, Joubert has lost his will to live and his job is hanging by a thin thread.

Now, people in Cape Town, without any known connection, are being murdered with a century-old Mauser handgun and a gentleman robber is hitting branches of the Premier Bank.

Joubert and his colleagues have a new boss who is set on changing the department and those who work there. He is demanding that they not only solve cases quickly but they must also get healthy. That means lose weight, eat healthy, stop drinking and smoking and if, like Joubert, there are emotional distresses in their lives, see a psychologist.

Joubert is compelled to sort out his life, face his past and solve his cases in a last-ditch effort to save his career--and maybe even his life.

Deon Meyers is a master storyteller. Dead Before Dying is filled with action, excitement and intense tension. The characters are multi-dimensional and their work and personal lives share the stage in a manner that brings them and the story to life.

Armchair Interviews says: Since the setting is in Cape Town, there are cultural differences that Americans are not familiar with but don't let that prevent you from a good read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The insignificance of life was just as sad as the finality of death." May 27 2006
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Captain Mat Joubert is sinking under the weight of his despair, still grieving the death of his wife two years and three months ago, his attention to police work slipping noticeably and his connection to life failing miserably. He has been in pain for too long, considering the only option that makes sense. When the sudden attention of a young girl occasions a surge of unexpected feelings, challenging his long slide into oblivion, it occurs to Joubert that he may not be ready to face the Grim Reaper. It's just as well. Under the leadership of a new commanding officer, the first black minister of law and order, the Department of Murder and Robbery is officially a part of the new South Africa, post-apartheid. Bart de Wit is enigmatic and demanding, requiring all the men in his command to shape up, physically and mentally, their jobs contingent on sufficient progress in every aspect of their lives.

Joubert acquiesces while dealing with a baffling new case: someone is shooting civilians point blank, with no apparent motive. Still reeling from his return to the living, Joubert grapples with awakening emotions and a desire to stop the senseless murders that are terrifying South Africans, while De Wit contentiously monitors his every move. Besides the tension Meyer brings to his novels, the character development is multi-layered and uniquely human, the inner turmoil of Captain Joubert; his friend and co-worker, the alcoholic Detective Sergeant Benny Griessel, whose job is on the line; the wife of the first victim, Margaret Wallace (she of the strangely colored eyes); even his assigned therapist. It is this combination of humanity and criminality that renders Meyer's novels irresistible, tapping into the utter horror of random murders and the devastation such acts leave in their wake. Opening up to life after his dark night of the soul, Joubert can hardly ignore the gritty reality of the criminal elements that define his work as a detective, particularly the seemingly random murders he must bring to an end. More than a police procedural, Dead Before Dying is solid, tightly-plotted and unpredictable, the new South Africa more recognizable with each Meyer title, the violence universal. Luan Gaines/2006.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big shy bear of a detective Oct. 22 2012
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My heart went out to Mat Joubert with his emotional wounds and insecurities, just as if he was a real person, not just a character in a book. I wanted to comfort him. I was a little in love with him, as was the sexy criminologist in this book who called him a " big shy bear." I have to admire an author who can get me this caught up.

Mat Joubert of the South African Police has been mourning two years for his dead wife, an undercover detective murdered "in the line of duty." To add to his distress, he has a new boss, a skinny little man who's obsessed with fitness. He decrees that the whole force must lose weight if they're fat, stop smoking and drinking, and get in shape. And the boss wants cases to be solved, no excuses.

Mat's struggles to trim his stomach, deal with booze and cigarettes and exercise are heroic and pretty funny. Amazingly he keeps dieting and swimming laps all through the most perplexing case the police have seen in years. A serial killer is shooting men one by one with an antique gun. The motive is a mystery, the victims have nothing in common, and it takes the whole book for Joubert to find a useful clue.

Another perpetrator is proving just as elusive: a bank robber who changes his appearance dramatically with each robbery.

Meanwhile, Joubet's boss is making him see a psychologist for his mental health - the final indignity. Can this attractive, petite woman fix Joubert's head? Joubert has many hilarious and dramatic encounters with women in this book.

The multi-layered plot is so gripping, I didn't want the book to end and at the same time, couldn't wait to finish it. This is definitely one of my favorite Deon Meyer books, and they're all terrific.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meyer Builds His Body of Work Nov. 22 2011
By J. Smallridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As with most Meyer books, this captures South Africa very well and contains a very good mystery at the same time. His writing is sharp and is full of important detail while his characters are real and confronted with amazingly accurate problems. This is a first order thriller.

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