Even after the release of Nelson Mandela and the promise of free elections, extremist groups terrorized South Africa, bombing churches, opening fire in bars and restaurants. Nearly twenty-five years ago, as a young Captain, Vaughn de Vries finds himself in pursuit of the suspects of a fatal bombing in his precinct, under the command of one of the most feared white police officers of the time: Major Kobus Nel. Out of radio communication and without clear evidence, the SAPS barge into a township and set off a chain of events which will resonate for a quarter of a century.
In Cape Town in 2015, the heiress of an Apartheid-era industrialist is found murdered, her body posed to suggest a racial hate crime. But, as Colonel Vaughn De Vries investigates, possible motives for her death abound: a highly controversial art exhibition, her sexual preferences, her relationship – as yet unknown by the press – with the son of one of the heroes of The Struggle.
And, moving South down through the country, five men are murdered, each with a connection to a point in history De Vries would sooner forget. When the link is made, De Vries must re-live the traumatic event to uncover the perpetrator. Old wounds, hidden in history, are exposed, and a mysterious killer approaches, whom no one seems able to stop.
Longlisted for the 2015 Crime Writer’s Association Golden Dagger (Crime Novel of the Year)
Praise for Paul Mendelson:
‘Authoritative and unblinkered fare’Financial Times
‘Once more, South Africa is brought vividly to life in a fine crimer which delivers a warm change from the regular diet of Scandinavian angst’ Weekend Sport
‘TheSerpentine Road has been my discovery of the year. Paul Mendelson has the makings of a literary superstar’ Jenny Crwys Williams, Radio 702/Cape Talk 567
‘In another superb slice of South African noir, Mendelson illuminates the corruption and criminality that plagues a country still haunted by apartheid. A taut thriller which evokes a unique political and geographic landscape’ Cath Staincliffe
‘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
‘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
‘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