Book Review: Past Mortem (Ben Elton)

I have read a number of Ben Elton’s recent novels including: Popcorn and Dead Famous which have been my favourites so far. I really liked Elton’s earlier work particularly some of his comedy written for TV, but these recent novels whilst good or even very good, are not great. His curent book (now in paperback) “Past Mortem” breaks this trend and really is a great book.

Along with some of Elton’s other books, the story is based around a familiar topical idea, his past books including topics as varied as “Big Brother” [Dead Famous], Drug Use [High Society] and Traffic Jams [Gridlock]. This time it is the Internet and the Friends Reunited website that absorbs the reader into a familiar setting. The story focusses on two detectives trying to solve a number of seamingly unconnected murders. The thing that really sets this book apart from the rest is the way that Ben Elton has actually managed to create tension that has you on the edge of your seat, but still injects some good comedy, and reads as a “Who dunnit?” murder mystery.

There are constant references to school in the 1980’s, which will surely creating a feeling of nostalga for many 30-something readers, and anyone familiar with 1980’s chart music.
This book isn’t for everyone though. The book makes some quite graphical references to sexual acts, including some brief but quite explicit hard core sex. This is not put in gratuitously, and is only in quite a small part of the book, but may shock some people.

If you’re easily offended you may prefer to read some of Elton’s other work, but if not then this really is the one to read.