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When the South African Police Service receive a panicked call for help from the wayward daughter of a former Apartheid-era politician, they discover only her body but, within it, a message which will take Colonel Vaughn de Vries and Don February of the Special Crimes Unit on a journey through their country – and their country’s past – to decipher and resolve.

As organised crime grips South Africa, new players arrive in Cape Town, determined to exploit the poor and hopeless, promising redemption. While other government agencies snap impotently at the small fish, De Vries, linked by a personal connection, resolves to follow this trail to its source and take it down from the top. As decades old webs of corruption and influence are exposed, and the boundaries of morality blur, his decisions begin to impact on his friends, colleagues and family.

Reviews

The History of Blood is thoughtful and thrilling in equal parts
The Mail on Sunday
When Paul Mendelson, author of a string of successful high-stakes poker manuals, turned to crime writing a few years ago he brought all of the adrenaline fuelled drama of no-limit Texas Hold'em to the printed page . . . Gripping and chillingly authentic
Irish Independent
Mendelson plots so smoothly and writes so powerfully
The Guardian
The First Rule of Survival is an incredibly atmospheric, complex and dazzling debut from a thrilling and authentic new voice in crime fiction
Brian McGilloway
An excellent, uncompromising crime thriller made even better by its setting ... the story is two journeys in one, and I'm glad I took both
Lee Child
An impressive debut
The Times
A jaw-droppingly brilliant crime thriller. Imagine The Killing moved to Cape Town and into the landscape of the hot and dusty African veld
Philip Glenister