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The Happier Dead Mass Market Paperback – February 25, 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is equal parts imaginative science fiction,exciting political thriller and engrossing crime novel. (Kirkus)

About the Author

Ivo Stourton is the author of two previous non-SF novels "The Night Climbers" (Doubleday, 2007) and "The Book Lover's Tale" (Doubleday, 2011). He is married and lives in London
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781081832
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781081839
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,603,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book. It started with an interesting idea which was never developed or followed as fully as it could have been. I got irritated with the protagonist as he seemed quite unprofessional in places where it wasn't even necessary for the plot. Some of the characters seemed cliched. Big, unusual words seemed to litter the prose gratuitously and when you looked up what they actually meant, some of them didn't seem to fit into their sentences, I am sorry to write this negative review. I would encourage the author to keep trying, as some of the descriptions were good.
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Format: Kindle Edition
When I started The Happier Dead, I expected a British procedural peppered with some SF elements, and I got that, but it’s really so much more…. Ok, so, here’s the gist: It’s 2035, and DCI Rob Oates is called to the scene of a brutal stabbing that’s taken place within the environs of The Great Spa. The Great Spa caters to those that have gone through the Treatment, but have had…problems. The Treatment takes those that can afford it back to an age usually somewhere between 20 to 25 (this is ultimately up to the person receiving the Treatment), and immortality is granted as part of the package. Britain has a monopoly on this technology, which of course give them quite a leg up on the world stage. However, immortality comes with a price. When one lives too long, one can become bored and require more extreme experiences in order to enjoy life, which can lead to bad things, even psychopathy, so in order to combat that, The Great Spa was built five years ago and contains a whole other reality that grants the new-young a sort of rebirth that will hopefully rejuvenate and rebuild their damaged souls. When Oates arrives at The Great Spa (technically called Avalon), he’s informed that they already have a suspect in custody, and he’s confessed. Oates is particularly good at ferreting out Eddys, which are people that have been paid to confess and serve time for someone else’s crimes, often with the promise of ultimately receiving the Treatment. Oates’s gut tells him this man, Ali Fazool, is innocent, but he confessed, so proving it is going to be the trick, and he may not have much time, because rioting has begun around the city by those that oppose The Treatment and what it promises, and tensions are rising to deadly levels.

So much for just a gist, huh?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A science-fictional crime novel set in a near-future London. I was sold on reading The Happier Dead, novelist and play-wright Ivo Stourton's first SF novel, by those elements alone. Add some fascinating thought exercises about immortality, memory, and morality to that mix and The Happier Dead was a novel that was equal parts riveting action and thought-provoking ideas. Although the ending bothered me somewhat in its sudden shift away from our protagonist Oates, I very much enjoyed this book, both for its story and its prose.

The Happier Dead is set in a near-future London, but it remains unclear how near a future exactly. Some of the political elements, such as a war in Syria, seem to have their roots in the now and taking the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in consideration, I'd guess that means it couldn't be more than fifteen or twenty years in the future? Then again the building of the Dome and the perfecting of the Treatment in such a relatively short time seems implausible. The timespan doesn't truly matter to the plot and it isn't clearly mentioned anywhere, but I found myself distracted throughout the narrative when coming across historical references, trying to use them to pinpoint the time the novel is set in. Oates's city is also very much a recognisable London, which would probably feel quite familiar to its current residents.

I found it interesting to see how the London Riots of 2011 are starting to seep into fiction. The Happier Dead isn't the first book I've read in the past few months where their echoes can be clearly heard. The riots in the book mirror and increase the narrative tension.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is set in London, sometime in the near future which, although recognisable, is also different in quite worrying ways. There is an even greater distance between rich and poor; with the ultra rich able to take ‘the Treatment’ at Avalon, a huge spa in London, allowing them to regain their youth. These ‘new-young’ can, theoretically, live forever, thanks to Nottingham Biosciences who have conquered death – or, at least, ageing. Outside the spa, there is unrest and riots on the streets, while many people wear dreemfilters, to avoid the undercurrent of exposure to advertising all around. People worship designer goods and there is a general distaste of death. Yet, death is, if not unavoidable, still a regular occurrence on the streets of London and even, it seems, in the Great Spa of Avalon. Detective Chief Inspector Rob Oates is called in to investigate a murder at Avalon; where the body of a guest has been found violently killed.

Oates is a man who feels deeply uncomfortable about Avalon and even more out of place once he enters the elite Spa. He is asked to tread lightly as clients occupy the top positions in politics, finance and the creative industries. They are all trying to slough off their years in a make believe world of eternal youth, while Oates certainly feels every year of his age. This novel – part mystery, part thriller and part sci fi – takes us from millionaires houses to the sewers underneath London, while riots erupt on the streets. Oates has a suspect, but it all seems too simple to accept, even if his Chief Superintendent wants the case wrapped up quickly. Can he uncover why this particular client was murdered and why? What secrets are Nottingham Biosciences hiding and why did the victims brother, who worked for them, go missing?
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