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The First Rule Of Survival by Paul Mendelson

The First Rule Of Survival

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

April 2014 Debut of the Month.

Shortlisted for the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger - Crime Novel of the Year 2014.

In Cape Town seven years ago three white boys disappeared, now two emaciated and abused bodies are discovered wrapped in plastic in a skip. De Vries worked tirelessly on the case but it was never solved. Now he is on the case again and we switch back and forth between the two periods. The story is told in the present tense so we follow the police procedure as it unfolds in a multi-layered tale. Excellent stuff with enough background on the complexity of modern South Africa to leave you to form your own opinion – the author does not impose his. It is a fast read for you are compelled to unravel the puzzle as quickly as possible.

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The First Rule of Survival a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'Wonderful, chilling detective story with good pitted against evil and many answers to be found. I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a series of stories featuring Vaughn de Vries' Joan Hill.

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If you like Paul Mendelson you might also like to read books by Deon Meyer.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

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The First Rule Of Survival by Paul Mendelson

Seven years ago in Cape Town three young white South African schoolboys were abducted in broad daylight on three consecutive days. They were never heard of again. Now, a new case for the unpredictable Colonel Vaughn de Vries casts a light on the original enquiry; for him, a personal failure which has haunted him for those seven years and has cost him his marriage and peace of mind. A former British government agent, friend to De Vries, provides intelligence on this new case, but is any of it admissible? Struggling in a mire of departmental and racial rivalry, De Vries seeks the whole truth and unravels a complex history of abuse, deception and murder. Challenging friends, colleagues and enemies, De Vries comes to realise he doesn't know who is which. Set against the background of Cape Town and the endless, rolling South African veld, this chilling thriller reveals layer after layer of abuse - physical, political and psychological.


We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review The First Rule of Survival. You can read their reviews below.

Jillian McFrederick - 'A gritty and satisfying read, this novel brings colour and vibrancy to a society absorbed by abuse, deception and murder.' Click Here to read the full review.

Susan Burton - 'Enjoyable and fast moving action packed thriller.' Click Here to read the full review.

Julie Collins -
'The reader is gripped from the outset; holding their breath and rooting for Superintendent Vaughan De Vries in his quest for justice...Rarely does a thriller writer achieve an ending so satisfying yet unexpected.' Click Here to read the full review.

Beverley Davenport -
'A page turner from the very beginning...A fantastic read for lovers of crime genre, enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and occasionally sitting on the edge of your seat.' Click Here to read the full review.

Nikki Whitmore -
'A tightly plotted, gripping thriller. One of those novels where you just have to keep turning the pages...A debut novel well worth a read' Click Here to read the full review.

Judi Davies -
'This book is complex and chilling...A great debut for a talented author.' Click Here to read the full review.

Les Warriner -
'A superb first crime thriller from Paul Mendelson.' Click Here to read the full review.

Joan Hill -
'Wonderful, chilling detective story with good pitted against evil and many answers to be found. I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a series of stories featuring Vaughn de Vries.' Click Here to read the full review.

Phylippa Smithson - '
Do you ever read a book that you can’t wait to finish and yet, don’t ever want it to end? Then you need to read The First Rule of Survival.' Click Here to read the full review.

Alan Brown -
'As the story progresses the excellent police procedural character metamorphoses into that of a good thriller.' Click Here to read the full review.

Paula Hall -
'Slow start to the book but it will eventually reel you in...and then you won't be able to put it down!' Click Here to read the full review.

Ray Orgill -
'This book gripped me from the very start...This is a first novel by Paul Mendelson and I look forward to more.' Click Here to read the full review.

Gill Wilmott -
'a brilliant crime thriller. Including too what appears to be not only a good description of the landscape and settlements, but also an informative social commentary on a country still with its racial tensions, changed in character, but still present.' Click Here to read the full review.

About the Author

Paul Mendelson

Paul Mendelson is a leading author on poker, w hose previous books include Texas Hold 'Em Poker: Begin and Win. His expertise comes from a long association with gaming in the UK, South Africa and in Las Vegas. He runs poker classes and also writes as gambling correspondent for the Financial Times. His debut novel, The First Rule of Survival, was nominated for the CWA Gold Dagger in 2014.

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Book Info

Publication date

20th March 2014


Paul Mendelson

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Constable Crime an imprint of Constable and Robinson


400 pages


Crime / Mystery
All Shortlists and Winners
Thriller / Suspense
Debuts of the Month
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Crime & mystery



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