As with the first novel I read, the attraction was that it was set in Cape Town, but my expectations were much greater after reading Thirteen Hours. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Dead Before Dying is a crime novel, but in some ways the crime is almost incidental. The main plot centres on the detective, Mat Joubert, and his battle with his own demons.
Joubert’s wife has been dead for two years and he is psychologically damaged. He has a new boss in Colonel de Wit in the Murder and Robbery section of an increasingly politicised South African Police Service who is determined that the officers beneath him are of sound mind and body.
He demands that Joubert should lose weight and improve his fitness, but it is the referral to a psychologist that disturbs him the most because it means he must openly confront the circumstances of his wife’s death and the emptiness of his life since then.
Jolly stuff! But if that wasn’t enough, there is a serial murderer in town who kills with an ancient Mauser pistol, a relic of the Boer War, who is working through an unfathomable hit list. Catching the killer is Joubert’s chance of redemption; a last opportunity to save both his career and his sanity.
It has good pace and is well-written, especially when you consider that it has been translated from Afrikaans. Another five star novel and I can’t wait to start on the next one.