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Past Mortem

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  3,061 ratings  ·  150 reviews
In romantic desperation, mild-mannered detective Edward Newsonlogged on to the "Friends Reunited" website searching for the girlfriends of his youth. As his old class begins to reassemble in cyberspace, the years slip away and old feuds and passions burn hot once more. A school reunion is planned, and as history begins to repeat itself, the past crashes headlong into the p ...more
Paperback, 459 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Transworld Publishers (first published 2004)
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Modern British Novels
169th out of 437 books — 429 voters
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Best Ben Elton Book
9th out of 15 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

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Tom Loock
I have read quite a few of Ben Elton's novels and with the exception of Blast from the Past have enjoyed them, some of them (High Society, Chart Throb) very much so.
Past Mortem is an okay mystery very heavy on the message about bullying. It's an important issue and I presume it was personal for Elton. An enjoyable read it is not, but then I suppose it's not meant to be.
David Roberts
I am reviewing the comedy thriller novel Past Mortem by Ben Elton which is a very good book which I bought from a car boot sale. Apparently Ben won the Golden Dagger Award for Popcorn which was a previous comic thriller also by him. People who are squeamish might fight this book a bit off putting although it's well written. The plot is a police inspector is investigating a series of brutal murders where the victims always seem to be unpopular and bullies. At the same time he is have to contend w ...more
Ben Elton is really original and funny.
When some of my friends asked me "what is this book about?" I couldn't answer. Maybe a black novel, maybe a romantic one with a lot of perversion, maybe a little bit of everything... I don't know how to classify this novel, but I don't think it is necessary. It is a great one, with very complicated characters and with a cool story.

I love the writing and the speed of the events. I have hated some of the characters, yes, I have hated them not because of the
As you will see from my other reviews, I generally enjoy reading Mr. Elton's output in the form of novels. 'Past Mortem' disappointed, however. What I normally like is the way he is able to combine wit, social issues and realistic characters into an intriguing storyline. The characaters in this novel were not as well fleshed out as in some others (such as 'Inconceivable'), but they were real enough to keep the plot going. So what didn't I like about this one? First, it was not very funny. That i ...more
"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
"Past Mortem" is a mystery which takes place in contemporary England. Edward Newson, a detective inspector from Scotland Yard, together with Natasha Wilkie, a detective sergeant, trace a thread of murders in which victims die from lengthy torture. The scenes of each crime are connected only by a single common element -- the meticulousness and elaborate planning to avoid quick death.

On the surface this would have been a mystery about the psychology of the perpetrator, there is that, but what this
Kristi Sawyer
The problem with good books is that they never last very long!

Ben Elton is the perfect example of that...although being fairly long, I devour his books so quickly that enjoyment seems over far too fast! This being the second Ben Elton book I have read, I am struck by how vastly different the plots were (Two Brothers was excellently researched historical fiction), but they are both immensely entertaining. This story follows Detective Inspector Newson in his investigation of a series of interestin
I'd forgotten how much I like Ben Elton. I liked his stand-up comedy and I've enjoyed his books thus far. This has been loitering on my bookshelves for years, and I'm rather glad that I inadvertently preserved reading it for the first time!

I've never had the slightest urge to join Friends Reunited. My school days were not the happiest of my life by any stretch of anyone's imagination and I've no overwhelming urge to revisit those with whom I shared them. The subjects of this novel, regardless of
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sean Rich
i realy enjoyed this book, even though i did work out who done it about half way through. but there was still plenty of good bits and surprises on the way through. Ben Elton is fast becomeing one of my fav authors, i've read two of his books now and i realy like the way he looks at things, his characters and his wit.
Was expecting the usual Ben Elton comedy, but this murder whodunit addresses the subject of bullying and it’s long lasting impact on the lives of both parties and proves to be a very enjoyable read.

D.I. Newton, the investigating officer and the central character, is someone single / divorced men over the age of 30 can identify with, unrequited love, wondering where the next physical encounter is going to surface. When he does have sex for the first time in months, it is more than he bargained fo
Cat Pick
This was given to me by my Scottish friend who bought it in a UK charity shop. I hadn't ready any Elton before, and I'm really enjoying this. It's basically a police procedural, albeit a more lighthearted one (though the crimes are not at all lighthearted). It's sort of a veddy serious procedural crossed with a Kingsley Amis novel.
Ben Elton expertly combines the dread and thrill of a psychologically motivated murder spree with genuinely rib-tickling situations the protagonist regularly experiences. A riveting read.
Bryan Murphy
I must have been reading too much crime fiction recently, because this time I guessed who dunnit. Not that I love the genre: I'm more interested in characters and background, and sometimes in having a good laugh. I read this book because I found it (in English) in my local public library in Turin (Italy) and remembered the author as a very funny stand-up comedian. He's not so funny here, but he's a fine writer with enough skill at developing characters and background to keep me riveted. There ar ...more
John Bowen
My favourite of Ben Elton's books. His novels always have something interesting to say, usually nicely woven into a wonderfully managed plot sympathetic to his chosen theme, but here the two work in tandem better than ever.

A whodunnit populated with great suspects and a likeable and complex protagonist it's easy to root for. I loved every moment.

With 'Friends' like these who needs enemies.

- John Bowen is the author of 'Where the Dead Walk'. You can find him here on GoodReads, and his published w
James Perkins
After his stand-up career stalled, Mr Elton turned to writing comic novels, and in my opinion, he is much more talented in that vein. He may air similar opinions, but somehow controversial issues are more acceptable on paper rather than in an outraged spoken rant. This particular effort involves young Detective Inspector Edward Newson and his attractive sidekick Detective Sergeant Natasha Wilkie as they investigate a series of bizarre and very gruesome murders. In his spare time, D.I. Newson is ...more
Dec 25, 2010 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
There's no doubt that this is an entertaining thriller that is easy to read, but the book also has a bitter and somewhat mean-spirited undercurrent that I always thought underpinned a lot of Elton's comedy. While most of his characters are likeable and therefore soften the impact of what is being portrayed, I think that many readers will be switched off by the key plot devices that are used to carry the story. There is also one sex scene that is almost stomach-churning in what it depicts, and wi ...more
I had never read a Ben Elton book before but have always liked his screen work. I can honestly say that this book was not what I was expecting but with my previous experience of his work being Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line and Maybe Baby that came as little surprise. This book was an absoulute gripping thriller and a prime example of how talented a writer Ben Elton is as he is able to pen this thriller novel which quite rightly ranks alongside the work of some of the full-time thriller writers ...more
Alan Perry
Ben Elton has managed to wrap a very tough subject up in a intricate plot. Detective Inspector Ed Newson is investigating a high profile murder, while at the same delving into his own past through Friends Reunited. The two situations start to merge together, linking other unsolved murders together, while also discovering that his memories of his schooldays were far from similar to anyone elses in his class. It starts to emerge that the murderer is after class bullies, and it's not until Ed's old ...more
Anyone who enjoyed the Brit-coms "Blackadder" and "Thin Blue Line" on PBS in past years is familiar with Ben Elton's brand of humor. He is one of the few writers who can make me laugh out loud, and he did that several times in this murder mystery, based on school bullying and how it affects peoples' later lives. A serial killer is on the loose, torturing his victims for hours in horrible and bizarre ways before he finally kills them. If you hate detailed descriptions of this sort of thing, you s ...more
Ruth Lawton
I barely read this. I gave it an hour and the last 15 minutes of that I was skimming in case it got better. I wasn't sure what to expect, witty and or clever. But it didn't match my expectation of either of those but as always this is entirely about individual taste and this simply wasn't to mine. I didn't find it funny, I felt it was gratuitously gory. I didn't feel the relationships or characters were relatable to. I was disappointed
Michelle Lewis
I have enjoyed several of Ben Eltons other books but whilst undoubtedly clever, I did find the writing to be following a method rather than from the heart. Either the formula has changed or this book was written differently for some other reason because it really delivered.
I loved the premise and the characters appearing one by one thrilled in their realism. The plot was funny and thrilling but mainly funny. Reccomended.
I had written Ben off, formally a comedy hero of mine from the 80s then the writer of queen musical - unforgivable!
This is good stuff, I don't normally read crime, so it may be paint by numbers stuff but it gripped me. And was thoughtful about nostalgia, bullying and the need / want to return to childhood. The use of music was good to.

As with all lad lit the ante nation to female bodies is irritating/titilating. I get where the author is coming from, it's just embarrassing to faced with the trut
This is a clever book, and the plot is gripping. But. I was disappointed when the murderer was revealed, as I had guessed who it would be, and I don't think he needed to try to shock quite so hard - it would have been just as good a story without the graphic and nasty sex. Left me feeling rather nasty. Therefore, only 2 stars - although the plot and grip-factor deserve more.
Robert Newnham
With a predictable plot and relatively shallow characters Ben Elton failed to impress this time. Having previously read, and loved,'dead famous' I had high expectations. Unfortunately only parts of the story read with the same humour as my previous Elton experience (one chapter involving ex girlfriend Helen will remain memorable) and so I'm unable to recommend this novel.
This is one of the more enjoyable books from Ben Elton.
It had an interesting plot, insane characters, and a "love" story that ended quite cutely.
I like that Ben has a way of tackling current issues/trends in his own kind of way. (e.g. global warming, reality TV, fame, etc etc)
Also, I'm quite happy with the fact that I predicated the killer halfway through the book. Not that it was predictable or anything. It's just that I've read enough crime thrillers to kind of predict how things play out and
The 2nd book on my 2015 reading challenge, A book by an author you've never read before. I have always wanted to try a book by Ben Elton so thought it would be a good time to try. Its not really the kind of book I'd usually read and I didn't really find it very funny. It was however a really easy to read book and I was kept interested till the end as I wanted to find out who done it!
I read some bad reviews on Amazon about it, but I quite enjoyed it. True, it had some hectic bits and true, I managed to predict whodunnit well in advance. Although he did occasionally make me wonder if I'd guessed correctly as I read but, I did. It was a fairly quick, easy read. I still liked it. Admittedly my fav book of his so far is High Society.
Very impressive, a truly gripping and cunning whodunit.
Surprisingly it was lacking Bens usual quirky humour, well, there was a little in there, but mainly the tone was true detective.
Really really gripping, the first book in years that I started reading in the evening, and just couldn't put down until I'd finished it around 3am!
Helena Erbanová
Fun to read, although don't expect any high literature. I knew who the murderer was after the first third but still enjoyed reading it, partly because one doesn't need to think hard and it's just a perfect piece to relax over together with a glass of wine. It doesn't offend any reader who just feels like going with something easy.
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Ben Elton was born on 3 May 1959, in Catford, South London. The youngest of four, he went to Godalming Grammar school, joined amateur dramatic societies and wrote his first play at 15. He wanted to be a stagehand at the local theatre, but instead did A-Level Theatre Studies and studied drama at Manchester University in 1977.

His career as both performer and writer encompasses some of the most memo
More about Ben Elton...
Dead Famous High Society Stark Popcorn Two Brothers

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