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Past Mortem

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  3,697 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
With old friends like these, who needs enemies?

It's a question mild mannered detective Edward Newson is forced to ask himself when, in romantic desperation, he logs on to the Friends Reunited website in search of the girlfriends of his youth. Newson is not the only member of the Class of take back '88 who has been raking over the ashes of the past. As his old class begins
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Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 2nd 2005 by Black Swan (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Samyuktha jayaprakash
Jul 18, 2015 Samyuktha jayaprakash rated it it was amazing
A very enjoyable light read on an important topic. First Ben elton book , I really like his style.
Characters - Funny , self depreciating and full of annoying tiny flaws. I kept thinking of Ed Sheeran when I read of Ed newson. The villain was hardly developed. Found some characters too drenched in stereotype.

Way of killing - Interesting , gross and relevant to the case.

Motives - Underlying theme of bullying and high school throughout the book. I felt that more dialogue on why killing your high
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port22
Jun 17, 2012 port22 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mystery
"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
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Dreadlocksmile
Feb 28, 2009 Dreadlocksmile rated it really liked it
"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
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Rubi
Oct 09, 2013 Rubi rated it liked it
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
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Tom Loock
Dec 29, 2012 Tom Loock rated it it was ok
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.
Nick
Aug 30, 2008 Nick rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
David Roberts
Jan 22, 2014 David Roberts rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Kristi Sawyer
Mar 09, 2016 Kristi Sawyer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favourites
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
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Sally
Feb 19, 2014 Sally rated it really liked it
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
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Charlotte (Buried in Books)
Dec 15, 2009 Charlotte (Buried in Books) rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cat Pick
Nov 09, 2012 Cat Pick rated it liked it
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.
Sean Rich
Jun 13, 2015 Sean Rich rated it it was amazing
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.
Mihaelas
Apr 25, 2016 Mihaelas rated it it was ok
2 stars

If you write half of a book, find it crap and keep writing - just stop. I would have rather read nothing. Ew.
Ameya
Oct 19, 2014 Ameya rated it really liked it
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.
Sue
Nov 17, 2016 Sue rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, funny, whodunnit
Beginning with a detailed description of a gruesome murder (the first of several..), Ben Elton leaves you in no doubt that this is a tale with few holds barred. Anyone who knows his writing won't be particularly surprised at that. There's also lots of lusting, a bit of graphic sex, some nasty bullying, self harm and swearing, but hey ho...

Story centers around a group of thirty somethings who grew up in the 1980's and come together again, via Friends Reunited, for a school reunion. Whether they w
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Trishulananda Paul McMullen
Nov 21, 2016 Trishulananda Paul McMullen rated it it was amazing
As contemporary fiction set in the UK I was able to identify strongly with the culture of this book and I found it very difficult to put down. But it is at times a punishing read and not everyone will want to endure the accounts of sex and violence. Normally i would not seek "entertainment" in this form, but I found that as well as being good humoured(!) the book also prompted me to consider some very pertinent questions e.g. is there a connection between self respect and self importance? Like ...more
Joseph Ramsden
Nov 28, 2016 Joseph Ramsden rated it liked it
A little bit too obvious as a thriller and a little bit light on the humour for a comedy. Far the inferior of High Society, a book I devoured. Nevertheless, worth a read for the sex scene; that was just plain weird!
Annelies Kusters
Dec 05, 2016 Annelies Kusters rated it really liked it
De eerste die ik ooit gelezen heb van Ben Elton. Smaakt naar meer! (al vond ik het tè gemakkelijk om te raden wie de moordenaar was!)
Ruth Bradbury-Horton
Oct 12, 2016 Ruth Bradbury-Horton rated it really liked it
the fact that I read this book in a couple of days says to me how much I enjoyed it. The topic moves from amusement to disturbing and is right on topic with regards to the troubling trait of bullying. That Ben Elton took a different spin on the outcome and effect, made the story a goodread.

What struck me though was how as children we bully and or are bullied in ways that at the time of the 80's and prior were often deemed to be trivial, but yet were not.

Mark
Aug 11, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
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
Geoff Greene
Oct 04, 2016 Geoff Greene rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alan Perry
Sep 16, 2007 Alan Perry rated it it was amazing
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
James Perkins
Jun 25, 2012 James Perkins rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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 ...more
Jon
May 24, 2012 Jon rated it liked it
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 ...more
John
Dec 10, 2014 John rated it really liked it
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
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Karschtl
Jan 29, 2016 Karschtl rated it it was amazing
A novel about the very important topic of bullying, in particular bullying between teenagers (although abusive behaviour by a partner is also a side-theme). Some eccentric murder cases are presented here, and after the third or so the pattern is made clear to Det. Edward Newson. Each one of the murdered ppl has been a bully in his youth (and some have never grown out of it) and died the same way he/she once tormented a classmate.
Although the topic is taken just as serious as it is, at the same
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Mike
Sep 21, 2012 Mike rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
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
Steven Suttie
Apr 08, 2014 Steven Suttie rated it really liked it
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
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Carly Ogborne
Jan 31, 2013 Carly Ogborne rated it it was ok
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
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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
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