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Inherit the Dead: A Novel Hardcover – October 8, 2013

3.3 out of 5 stars 273 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the usual serial-novel pitfalls, C.J. Box, Lawrence Block, Mary Higgins Clark, Charlaine Harris, Val McDermid, and the 15 other distinguished crime authors who each contribute a chapter to this team project succeed in fashioning an engaging and cohesive plot. Each author maintains his or her distinctive style and storytelling approach. Marcia Clark's offering is a mini–legal thriller, for example, while Heather Graham's is heavy on the romance. Wealthy Julia Drusilla hires former NYPD homicide cop Pericles Perry Christo to find her missing 20-year-old daughter, Angelina, who's set to inherit a fortune. The trail to Angel, as her family calls her, twists from Manhattan's Upper East Side to the Hamptons and Brooklyn. Everyone in Angel's life has an ulterior motive, including her father, boyfriend, and best friend. The chapters move seamlessly as clues and storylines set up by one author are expanded by the next. Royalties in excess of editor and contributor compensations go to Safe Horizon, America's largest provider of services for domestic violence victims. (Oct.)

From Booklist

Although it’s not a sequel to 2011’s No Rest for the Dead, this novel-by-committee is a very good follow-up. Twenty writers—among them such notables as Billingham, Box, Bruen, Connolly, and McDermid—combine forces to tell the story of private investigator Perry Christo, a former NYPD homicide cop who’s hired by a society woman to find her missing daughter, Angel, who doesn’t know that she’s about to become a fabulously wealthy heiress. But that will only happen if Angel signs some documents on her twenty-first birthday, which means Perry is operating on a short deadline. Adopting a conventional PI format, the book makes a few nods to classics of the genre (a character named Elisha Hook, for example, is a clear reference to actor Elisha Cook, Jr., who appeared in The Maltese Falcon). There are some stylistic variations between the 20 authors—John Connolly doesn’t sound like Charlaine Harris—but, for the most part, the story moves as though there were a single hand on the tiller. Not merely a genre curiosity, the book is a well-told mystery that stands on its own two (or 40) feet. --David Pitt

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451684754
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451684759
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (273 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When twenty writers each contribute a chapter to a novel, the result can be fun or a disaster. Inherit the Dead is a little of both. Seeing how each writer adds his or her spin and comparing different writing styles is an enjoyable way to read a novel. Serial novels are more entertaining when each writer adds plot twists that are meant to challenge the writers that follow, although the resulting story often lacks coherence. This isn't that sort of novel. The writers were "following a plan" which I assume means a plot outline, and most of them did little more than that. Inherit the Dead has few twists of any kind, leaving the impression that none of the writers wanted to add a complication that would make the project more difficult for writers of subsequent chapters. More distressing is that few of the writers tried to imprint the story with a personality, resulting in a book that has none. Inherit the Dead is a remarkably bland novel -- not a disaster, not really bad, but nothing to be excited about.

Chapter 1 by Jonathan Santlofer sets up an ordinary premise: Ex-cop turned private detective Perry Christo is asked to find Angel, Julia Druscilla's missing twenty-year-old daughter. If Angel doesn't sign some trust documents on her twenty-first birthday, her share of a sizeable trust will be forfeited to Julia. Christo was booted off the police force for misconduct that remains unspecified until chapter 2's writer fills in the details, but we're given to believe that the accusations were false, making Christo a typical wronged-cop-turned-PI. Santlofer also appends a first-person narrative to the end of the chapter, voiced by someone who is following Christo. Some of the other writers do the same, but that aspect of the novel is largely abandoned by its midway point.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Overlong, boring, poorly edited (uses "benefactor" to describe a beneficiary under a will, another character was "casting dispersions"), you'll spot the "critical" clue long before the melancholy sad-sack of a protagonist, and the contrived ending makes little sense.

Naked came the Manatee started the multiple-author genre. This book should end it.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow, this one of the most boring books I have ever read, considering the top name authors who each contributed to it, it should have been one of the best. Inherit the Dead was written in a round robin, pass the incomplete story to the next person and each author writes a chapter then the next one picks up where they left off. If you've never picked up this style of short story or even novel before, think back to your school days when you probably participated in an exercise like this with everyone in the class writing a paragraph then passing the paper to the person sitting next to them who wrote the next paragraph, passed it to the next person and so on until everyone in the class had contributed to each of the 30 or so stories. You no doubt had a lot of fun with it trying to twist different classmates work so far into your own ideas, such as introducing elements to characters to change the previous image of them, killing some off and putting something weird in there for the conservative kid next to you to deal with. The finished work of your class' 30 or stories would have each been more exciting than Inherit the Dead.

It's not the round robin writing style that makes this a boring read, it's the quality of the writing. A book like this needs to start well in setting up the premise, and the editor Jonathan Santlofer of this one, decided to go with, well himself to do that. His situation was pretty average, and nothing unique, a washed up ex cop now PI desperate for a case to pay the bills gets a phone call from a rich woman that her daughter is missing. Her daughter by the way is an adult, and doesn't actually live with her. PI Perry Christo also couldn't be any more boring if he tried. He's just your another hard crime noir leftover guy in a trench coat with no personality.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first chapter of this strange collection of chapters is immensely readable as are sections by many of these authors--among the best (Child, Cox, (A) Burke, and others). But together they don't work. I'm not sorry I bought the book, given its support for a worthy organization, but I think the reader should be warned of the pitfalls as well as strengths of such a collection. Each chapter tells a part of the noir narrative, allowing authors, within a limited range, to develop the main and supporting characters as they will. Thus the character you know in one chapter bears a strong resemblance to the one that follows in the next chapter, but there are differences, albeit subtle, that can be off-putting. In other words, it's not like getting to know the main character a little better in each successive chapter; it is being forced to rethink in each chapter and recall from earlier chapters the main outlines of all the characters. The father and mother are particularly vulnerable to extravagant and whimsical details that successive authors add to the initial depiction. Some readers may find this entertaining, but it's a hard read.
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