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Inherit the Dead: A Novel Hardcover – October 8, 2013
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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.)
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
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Top Customer Reviews
Editor and the skill of the TWENTY authors maintained the voice of the story in an interesting manner.
However, each author stayed true to his/her vision twists in the plot. Thus, it was not a story of prediction.
Some authors give away too much and I know who done it half way through if not sooner.
Excellent plot twists and surprises.
As a writer/fan, I loved it.
Great suspense by skilled authors.
Want more like it.
Esther of Kent
The story pulled me along. Only after I finished did I check Dana's contribution. Then, in truth I laughed. You see Dana added some humor starting her chapter. Mentally, I'd laughed. Looking back it showed what a strong writer could do with less than ten pages to leave a memorable line or two. Still she moved the book forward. It is for a good cause. Buy the book.
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.
One reason to read a book with so many different voices (and, I suspect, one reason writers contribute their voices) is the possibility of finding a pleasing voice the reader hasn't previously encountered. I recognized the names of most of the contributing authors, but several I had not read before. Stephen Carter, Sarah Weinman, and Bryan Gruley all encouraged me to look for their work. Some writers who were more familiar to me made worthy, if unimpressive, additions to the novel, including James Grady, Lisa Unger, Dana Stabenow, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark, C.J. Box, and Max Allan Collins. Strong chapters were turned in by exceptionally strong writers: John Connolly is the first writer to put serious flesh on Christo's bones; Ken Bruen infuses the story with his biting Irish anger; Mark Billingham restores Bruen's edginess to the story; and Lawrence Block ties together the loose threads with the skill of a seasoned writer.
The contributions of several writers (many of whom have done better work than they display here) failed to impress me. Marcia Clark's chapter was shallow, as was S.J. Rozan's. The chapters by Heather Graham and Charlaine Harris were better suited to a trashy romance novel. Alafair Burke made no significant contribution to the plot but decided Christo should be whinier -- a bad choice.
Inherit the Dead was written in support of a charitable cause, so kudos to the writers for taking the time to do it. It strikes me as false advertising, however, to list Lee Child as one of the writers. Child dashed off a three page introduction praising all the writers for being so wonderful but he didn't contribute a chapter of his own. However praiseworthy the other writers might be for contributing their time, any of them writing individually would probably have produced a novel with a stronger plot and fleshier characters. If I could, I would give Inherit the Dead 3 1/2 stars: a small step above mediocrity but not a book that made me say, "yeah, I really liked that."