Past Mortem
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Past Mortem

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  2,685 ratings  ·  130 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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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
Rubi
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...more
Nick
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
Dreadlocksmile
"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...more
port22
"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...more
Sally
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...more
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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
Jim
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
Mark
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
Jon
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
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.
Elizabeth
It is one of the best thriller/mystery novels and this writer's talent is exquisite. The plot is really interesting and the writing is amazing. I did not expect the end and I generally enjoyed the story so much.
I really liked the fact that the writer did not concentrate only on the plot's part, but he also developed interesting characters and interactive to each other, developing a bond.
O'Hara
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...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.
Laura
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...more
Phillipa
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.
Jeffrey
I enjoyed this book although the ending was somewhat predictable. I picked the murderer somewhere around the two-thirds mark of the book but it was still enjoyable seeing how the leading character got to the conclusion (a bit like the old Columbo TV series!).

Elton shows quite a few insights into the way real people appear cool and confident while feeling all sorts of self-doubts (even self-loathing) inside.

The humour is gentle and subtle most of the time and Elton strikes a good balance between...more
Carly Ogborne
Ben Elton frustrates the hell out of me because his writing is almost great. Honestly, I think I'd enjoy his books more if they were a little worse. Past Mortem was okay. There's the usual Ben Elton trademarks - clever dialogue, amusing ponderings on the minutiae of life - but there's also a shitload of clunk - utterly unlikable characters, a completely unnecessary sex scene that feels like it was dumped in to add some spice, and I had picked the murderer by the sixth chapter.

I would recommend t...more
Steve Suttie
This is a very good book, as you might expect from Ben Elton. He has created another page turner in Past Mortem. His usual style of humour, and often dark humour is here, along with an exciting, edgy storyline that keeps you doing that "one more chapter" thing.

I would stick 5 stars on this, because it really is a marvellous novel. However, there's a pretty distressing sex scene at one point in the story that was weird. I don't get why its there, and it was grim, uncomfortable reading at that par...more
Mike
I really enjoyed the first Ben Elton book I read, The First Casualty. It was very well written, and contained almost nothing objectionable (at least nothing that I remember almost four years later). However I cannot recommend this book, and I would actually actively discourage people from reading this book. The book is fixated with sexuality, and with twisted sexuality at that. One scene in particular involves rather graphic and explicit descriptions of hardcore sex acts. I finished the book bec...more
C.J. Wright
I really enjoyed this book. If 'Life' hadn't got in the way I could have read it from cover-to-cover in one go. Behind the main plot of the book is the theme of bullying, and it did bring back thoughts of what my school life was like, and how things are a lot different for me and those I went to school with now.

There is quite a graphic sex scene in this book, which for some maybe a bit too much, (unless you've read 50 Shades of Grey, then you might find it tame by comparison. Though I haven't ac...more
Ameya
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.
Sarah
Not sure how I can beat describe Ben Elton novels but lets say you don't expect a five star work. I picked this up in a stall in Lisbon and despite its cheesiness and slightly ridiculous plot, it entertained. Not the best from him but very readable.
Simon
I'm sure I read it but cannot for the love of me remember the story or the plot and the extract does little to boost my memory. I'm sure it was enjoyable...just not memorable.
Sarahjayne
Another good read by Ben Elton. I'd never thought I'd him as a 'whodunit' writer but this was a pretty good attempt - would definitely describe it as a good read.
Rj
The sex scene is not even worthy of the phrase. Sick scene more like. Unecessary too. The plot would have survived without it. The level of detail for that scene even more unecessary. Can't see why he included it. Ended up concluding Ben Elton was getting off on it himself.

Otherwise, it was the usual Elton stuff. It was trying to tell us that school bullying has long term consequences and should be taken more seriously and that's a good point.

BUT...
the scene in the kitchen was appalling and not...more
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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
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Dead Famous High Society Stark Popcorn Blind Faith

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