Dead Before Dying Review
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In Cape Town, South Africa, Captain Mat Joubert of the Murder & Robbery Squad is having a really rough couple of years. The new commanding officer—who’s a bit strange—is threatening to fire him because he smokes and he’s overweight. His partner is an alcoholic on drying-out leave, and his replacement has an uncontrollable temper. And as if that weren’t enough, his neighbor’s eighteen-year-old daughter is coming on to him, and he thinks he’s in love with his psychiatrist. Pile on top of that a bank robber who’s a clever disguise artist and a killer who murders with a flamboyant gun (a Mauser Broomhandle), and you’ve got one baffling and exhausting mystery.

It’s almost painful to watch Mat Joubert pull himself out of the dark pit of death he’s been living in since his wife Lara died in the line of duty two years ago. It’s a struggle you can feel every step of the way, with all its painful and humorous moments. You want him to succeed with every fiber of your being, so you follow his successes and setbacks with keen interest as he works on a case with no leads. And you know, as does he, that the Mauser Murders is the lifeline that’s bringing him back to the land of the living. He must solve this mystery to reclaim his life and dignity.

Dead Before Dying is a mixture of drama, mystery, and suspense. The plot hauls you in and baffles you to the point of amazement—because nothing appears to connect any of the murder victims to each other, except for the fact they’re all murdered with a century-old German handgun. You wonder how on earth Captain Joubert is going to solve the mystery, but he does—in a climax that’s both surprising and tragic.

Deon Meyer has written more than a mystery. His characters come alive on the pages, and you’ll care deeply for them. Mix that with a brilliant plot and you get one heck of a murder mystery by an author I plan on reading again.

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