Nick's Reviews > Past Mortem

Past Mortem by Ben Elton
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Aug 30, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction
Read in August, 2008

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 is shocking from a man who has been within the circle of comedians who have defined British comedy for last 20 years. Shocking, but forgiveable. Second, the storyline did not really work. In a previous book loosely based on the detective story genre (Dead Famous), the 'whodunnit' aspect was a major part of the success of the story. It was a real mystery. In this book, I could spot the culprit a mile off - a long time before the apparently brilliant young detective was anywhere near. Disappointing, but redeemable if all of the other elements are in place. So what did I really not like about this book? Ben Elton's novels generally tackle a particular social issue. This one is no exception. The issue here is that of bullying. This is a major problem that needs to be tackled in British society and I commend Mr. Elton's approach and bravery in the way that he deals with it. What I did not like, however, is that the issue of bullying became the only successful part of the novel (see the comments above). The book then becomes a morality tale without the tale. I expect better craftsmanship from someone who has been working on his style for such a long time.
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