The First Rule of Survival

Seven years ago, in Cape Town, South Africa, three schoolboys are abducted in broad daylight on consecutive days. They are never heard of again.

Now, a new case for Colonel Vaughn DeVries at the Serious Crimes Unit casts a light on the original enquiry; for him, a personal failure which has haunted and changed him.

DeVries himself is under investigation, the future of his department in doubt. A former British government agent provides him with unobtainable intelligence, but what price will he have to pay?

Struggling in a mire of departmental and racial rivalry, DeVries seeks the whole truth, and unravels a complex history of abuse, deception and murder. Encountering friends, colleagues and enemies, DeVries realises he doesn’t know anymore, who is which.

Set against the richly described backdrop of Cape Town, this chilling psychological thriller reveals it’s secrets one by one, each more shocking than the last.



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'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
This series just gets better and better. De Vries is utterly believable: fallible, weak, but ultimately, driven' 
SA Review of Books
''Mendelson plots so smoothly and writes so powerfully''
The Guardian
'A new Vaughn de Vries novel is the best news there is. Mendelson is the new King of SA Crime'
Books, 456 FM
'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 novel fizzes, helped by a vivid backdrop of the country's post-apartheid transformation
The Times
His debut novel bristles with a command of language and narrative that suggests someone with a slew of novels to their name.
The Financial Times