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Dead Before Dying

Dead Before Dying

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by Deon Meyer

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Someone in Cape Town has chosen a conspicuous murder weapon -- a century-old German handgun, with ancient bullets that tear through flesh and bone. Three men who have nothing in common are found murdered, and the string of vicious killings pushes the city toward panic. Captain Mat Joubert is left scrambling for answers in a case that might be his last chance to prove


Someone in Cape Town has chosen a conspicuous murder weapon -- a century-old German handgun, with ancient bullets that tear through flesh and bone. Three men who have nothing in common are found murdered, and the string of vicious killings pushes the city toward panic. Captain Mat Joubert is left scrambling for answers in a case that might be his last chance to prove that his life's slow spiral will not pull him under. DEAD BEFORE DYING is a heart-racing thriller about a troubled detective determined to find the single thread that weaves together what is otherwise just an assortment of strangers, dead by the same hand. PRAISE FOR DEON MEYER: This guy is really good. Deon Meyer hooked me with this one right from the start. Heart of the Hunter is a thriller with some weight attached, and that is a rare find. -- Michael Connelly, author of Echo Park Nothing is more exciting than a new voice in the thriller arena....Dead at Daybreak is a terrific ride on almost every level. -- Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
South African journalist Meyer's first novel, his third to be released in the U.S. (after 2005's Dead at Daybreak), is a gritty existential tale with enough muscle for thriller fans and noir aficionados alike. Mat Joubert, a 34-year-old Cape Town detective, has slipped into a downward spiral two years after his wife, a fellow cop, is killed in the line of duty. Complicating matters is his newly appointed boss, Bart de Wit, a bureaucrat determined to make a name for himself in the "new" South Africa, who sends Joubert to a shrink for counseling. Joubert's opportunity at redemption comes as he investigates a bizarre series of murders committed with a century-old Mauser pistol used by the Afrikaners in the Boer war. The killer even uses vintage cartridges. Trouble is, the murders appear to be completely random and unrelated. As Joubert closes in on the killer, the plot takes an unexpected turn that will shock readers. While not up to the standard of his later Dead at Daybreak, this remains a bold, character-driven page-turner. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Capt. Mat Joubert, a detective in the South African Police Service, is despondent. Two years ago, his wife died in the line of duty (exactly how is revealed in a heartrending scene late in the novel). The new police chief wants him to lose weight, quit smoking, and see a psychiatrist. And his next-door neighbor's 18-year-old daughter is trying to seduce him. Not to mention other pressures, like tracking down a serial killer at work in Cape Town and stopping a bank robber who changes disguises with each attempt. As Joubert wrestles with his inner demons during sessions with an attractive female psychiatrist and tackles his weight by measuring portions of health food in grams and milliliters, the dead bodies pile up. To save his job, Joubert will have to solve the mystery that ties together seven seemingly unrelated murder victims. In his third novel, Meyer (Dead at Daybreak) creates an enjoyable character-driven crime story that gently tweaks some of the genre's stereotypes. An appealing protagonist, a plot rich in detail, and a shocking conclusion make this a gripping read. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/06.]-Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“A gritty existential tale with enough muscle for thriller fans and noir aficionados alike. . . . A bold, character-driven page-turner.”
Publishers Weekly (HC)

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
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Read an Excerpt

Dead Before Dying

By Deon Meyer

Little, Brown

Copyright © 1996 Deon Meyer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-00013-2

Chapter One

IN THE AFTERNOON HUSH of the last day of the year, Mat Joubert thought about death. Mechanically his hands were busy cleaning his service pistol, the Z88. He sat in his sitting room, leaning forward in the armchair, the parts of the pistol lying on the coffee table in front of him among rags, brushes, and an oil can. A cigarette in the ashtray sent up a long, thin plume of smoke. Above him, at the window, a bee flew against the glass with monotonous regularity, in an irritating attempt to reach the summer afternoon outside, where a light southeaster was blowing.

Joubert didn't hear it. His mind wandered aimlessly through memories of the past weeks, among chronicles of death, his bread and butter. The white woman on her back on the kitchen floor, spatula in her right hand, omelet burnt on the stove, the blood an added splash of color in the pleasant room. In the living room, the boy, nineteen, in tears, 3,240 rand in the pocket of his leather jacket, saying, over and over, his mother's name.

The man among the flowers, an easier memory. Death with dignity. He recalled the detectives and the uniformed men on the open industrial site between the gray factory buildings. They stood in a circle, knee-deep in the wildflowers thrusting up yellow and white and orange heads. In the center of thisjudicial circle lay the body of a middle-aged man, small in stature. An empty bottle of meths was gripped in one hand, he was facedown, cheek against the soil.

But his eyes were closed. And his other hand clutched a few flowers, now faded.

It was the hands that Mat Joubert remembered most vividly.

On Macassar beach. Three people. The stench of burning rubber and charred flesh still hanging in the air, the group of the law and the media forming a barrier downwind against the horror of multiple necklace murders.

The hands. Claws. Reaching up to the heavens in a petrified plea for deliverance.

Mat Joubert was tired of living. But he didn't want to die like that.

Using thumb and forefinger, he placed the fifteen stubby 9 mm bullets into the magazine one by one. The last one flashed briefly in the afternoon sun. He held the bullet at eye level, balanced between thumb and forefinger, and stared at the rust-colored lead point.

What would it be like? If you pressed the dark mouth of the Z88 softly against your lips and you pulled the trigger, carefully, slowly, respectfully. Would you feel the lead projectile? Pain? Would thoughts still flash through the undamaged portions of the brain? Accuse you of cowardice just before the night enveloped you? Or did it all happen so quickly that the sound of the shot wouldn't even travel from gun to ear to brain?

He wondered. Had it been like that for Lara?

What was it like-her light being switched off and watching the hand on the switch? What did she think about in that last fleeting moment? Life? Him? Perhaps she felt remorse and wanted to give a last mocking laugh?

He didn't want to think about it.

A new year would start the following day. There were people out there with resolutions and dreams and plans and enthusiasm and hope for this new era. And here he sat.

Tomorrow everything at work would be different. The new man, the political appointment. The others could talk about nothing else. Joubert didn't really care. He no longer wanted to know. Either about death, or life. It was simply one more thing to survive, to take account of, to squeeze the spirit out of life and lure the Great Predator even closer.

He banged the magazine into the stock with the flat of his left hand, as if violence would give his thoughts a new direction. He thrust the weapon into its leather sheath. The oil and the rags went back into the old shoebox. He dragged on the cigarette, blew the smoke in the direction of the window. Then he saw the bee, heard exhaustion diminishing the sound of the wings.

Joubert got up, pulled the lace curtain aside, and opened the window. The bee felt the warm breeze outside but still tried to find a way out through the wrong panel. Joubert turned, picked up an oily rag, and carefully swiped it past the window. The insect hovered briefly in front of the opening, then flew outside. Joubert closed the window and straightened the curtain.

He could also escape, he thought. If he wanted to.

Deliberately he let this perception fade as well. But it was enough to have him make an impulsive decision. He'd walk across to the neighborhood barbecue this evening. Just for a while. For the Old Year.


Excerpted from Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer Copyright © 1996 by Deon Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

SIMON VANCE is a prolific and popular audiobook narrator and actor with several hundred audiobooks to his credit. An Audie® Award-winner, Vance was recently named "The Voice of Choice" by Booklist magazine.

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Dead Before Dying 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book twice,and enjoyed it both times! Besides being well written, The author lets the reader understand the mind set of the police captain. DAISY
redstar More than 1 year ago
Happy to add this author to my list of top reading material. Enjoyed the book and style.
sayan40 More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Cape Town, South Africa, a killer has murdered three victims with no apparent links. The culprit used a Boer War German Mauser gun with bullets as old as the weapon is to fire two shots to the head and to the chest of the victim. Murder and Robbery Squad Captain thirty-four years old Mat Joubert heads the investigation. Mat knows this case is probably the last opportunity to salvage a career that has rapidly collapsed since his beloved wife Lara was killed on duty during a police matter two years ago.--------------- Mat investigates the three murders, but finds no motive to tie them together. He begins to wonder if the killer is just randomly selecting his victims. Still as the local residents panic over who is next, the media adds to the feeding frenzy and the brass, especially the ambitious politicians in and out of the police station, demand either the culprit or a fall guy. Mat struggles with finding clues before he has to visit the crime scene of the next victim.-------------- This graphic South African police procedural is a tense gritty serial killer noir that grips the audience from start to finish with a haunting final twist. Mat is an interesting detective carrying plenty of baggage in a career that is as dead as the victims of the killer, but hooks fans, who will join him as he seeks evidence especially something that ties the dead together. Readers will appreciate Deon Meyer's strong vivid murder mystery and want to read his other South African novels (see HEART OF THE HUNTER and DEAD AT DAYBREAK: PAST IS NEVER DEAD).--------------- Harriet Klausner
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I have read several other books by this author & would happily recommend them.......but this is his worst!