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.
Shortlisted for the Crime Writer's Association Gold Dagger 2014 (Crime Novel of the Year)
Praise for Paul Mendelson:
'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
'An impressive debut' The Times
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
Paul Mendelson has written for the theatre and television and is the author of eleven non-fiction titles concerning mind-sports such as bridge and poker, as well as being a crime novelist whose first novel, The First Rule of Survival, was short-listed for the CWA Golden Dagger Crime Novel of the Year in 2014. His second novel, The Serpentine Road, was long-listed for the same prize in 2015. Both have been translated into several languages and a television adaptation is already in preparation.