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
´The Serpentine 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
´An impressive debut´ The Times