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Past Mortem

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  5,281 ratings  ·  255 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
Kindle Edition, 468 pages
Published November 8th 2012 by Transworld Digital (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,281 ratings  ·  255 reviews

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Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where to start this review? It’s a hard book to categorise.
Ben Elton's renown comes from his comedy writing but there is not a lot of comedy here. There are some very funny moments but on the whole this is a very dark tale.
Insp Ed Newson, 5’ 4” tall and a carrot top to boot suffers greatly from a lack of self esteem, with respects to the fair sex, but makes up for it with an amazing intelligent, analytical mind.
Insp Newson and his Sergeant ‘Natasha’, whom Newson worships from a far, are invest
Thomas Strömquist
I'm very impressed with Ben Elton's 9th novel. Even though I read him before and now well know that he does other stuff than comedy (and does other stuff than comedy really well), I'm still expecting a comic twist from his narrative. Even after learning of the (very) gruesome murders that are the work of a serial killer (according to Det. Edward Newsome's theory) I still kind of do. Some way into the novel, however, I realized this is serious stuff.

Without trying to reveal too much, the murders
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
2019 view: Another Four Star Elton read, seems to say that his writing improves with time :) A seemingly calculating very clever killer manages to subdue a large bully and quasi-gangster... and stab him over 340 times with a small instrument... until he dies! Yep you read that right! Short and ginger, but a leading Scotland Yard detective Edward Newsom and his second-in-command, whom he's secretly besotted with, Sergeant Natasha Wilkie find themselves caught up in a case that's feel to be centre ...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
Samyuktha jayaprakash
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
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.
Eddie Owens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex 🌿 | paperbacksplenty
2 stars

If you write half of a book, find it crap and keep writing - just stop. I would have rather read nothing. Ew.
Nikki Winson
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Im a big fan Ben Elton's books and again i wasn't disappointed. However, I had to knock a star off for an unnecessary sex scene which I struggled to read and almost made me stop reading. I am glad i continued as I stayed up until late as I had to finish it. It's not his usual comedy book and deals with a very emotive and always current issue, I wont say what as I don't want to give any spoilers. The characters were well written and I liked the main 2, I even felt for others but not all in a posi ...more
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Sean Rich
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jeff Johnston
Elton really tries to hammer home the impacts of child bullying and it's ongoing affect on the victims psychology into their adult life. Was not impressed with the romantic angle.
Aug 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 i ...more
David Roberts
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kristi Sawyer
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Elton is unashamedly into the groove of selecting themes of popular culture and satirising them. This is a typical offering, this time centring round a Friends Reunited-type website, and contains a lot of humour as well as some rather startling sex scenes. The whodunnit was weak, I thought, as I guessed the perpetrator pretty early on. There was still a minor twist I didn't guess, though, so top marks to him there. Not his best, but not his worst by any means.
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.
Nice, easy-to-read, funny thriller by one of my favourite authors. It's fairly easy to find out who is committing the murders and the main characters seem a bit stupid because of that, but there's still enough fun and excitement left in the book.
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tuba Sayed
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so cool man.
Remy Sharp
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
My hospital read! I spent a day and night in hospital for tonsillitis, and managed to read through this book (though there's not a whole lot to do in hospital!).

Originally this book was destined for a 3 star, but the last 5th of the book started to really pull the story together and made for quite a fun and gripping ending.


I selected this book to read because it was Ben Elton, and I'd read a few of his books before and was expecting satirical, witty and possibly funny. I did not expect this b
Jenny Park
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Ben Elton's style. Being a multi-talented actor/director/playwright/comedian/everything, I could tell he was a good story teller. The murders are gruesome and creative, although anyone who has read a few murder mystery novels I feel would have guessed in the middle of the book who the culprit was.
Regardless, I loved the theme of exploring the past especially around the traumas and bullying from high school that sticks with you your whole life. It is cringey and uncomfortable but a
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this, and kinda not so secretly loved the idea of bullies getting payback. The overly graphic sex scene was unnecessary so that’s why it lost half a star for me. Maybe I’m a prude, but I just didn’t think it added anything new to the story, we already knew she was batsh!t crazy...
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed it. Have read a number of Ben Elton books this is by far the best.
Rita Reece
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thriller/romance. Black comedy highlighting social issues as it delves into bullying and how it shapes all our lives. Good character insights.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of this book feels very outdated today (Friends Reunited, dial up Internet) but overall its a very enjoyable read. There are a few uncomfortable scenes and Elton continues to use the word "cool" far too often. I managed to guess the killer quite early on (think it was pretty obvious due so I can't claim to be a crime solving genius) spite a few obvious red herrings but that didn't spoil the enjoyment of the story.
minky moo
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A different view

Ben Elton has a way of taking a concept we all know if and looking at it from a completely different perspective and in this novel he has done so again. An enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.
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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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