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Secret Dead Men Paperback – January 9, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: PointBlank (January 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809556383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809556380
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When a man and his wife are found murdered in the tiny town of Woody Creek, Illinois, the FBI are called out to the scene, including our protagonist Special Agent Kevin Kennedy. The dead couple were part of the witness protection program at the time of their brutal murder. Sounds like your standard opening to a run-of-the-mill thriller, doesn't it? But this is anything but. You see, not only is Kevin Kennedy really Del Farmer, but Del Farmer has been dead for years.

In a nutshell, Del Farmer was murdered by The Association, which is his name for the unknown members of the Las Vegas mob, with whom he had run afoul thanks to his work as an investigative journalist. When he died, his soul was "collected" and stored inside the mind of another person effectively keeping him alive, at least in spirit if not in body. He now controls that body and devotes his time to hunting down The Association with the aim of eliminating them. Along the way he collects the souls of the dead, using their talents to draw him nearer to his goal. But while Del is concentrating on satisfying his thirst for revenge he is unaware that one of the souls he has collected is about to send his virtual world spinning out of control.

Secret Dead Men is a fast-paced story based around murder, revenge, peace of mind and peace in mind. . The obvious difference here to other murder investigation stories is that people are seeking revenge for their own murders! Author Duane Swierczynski (it's pronounced the way its spelt) has come up with a mind bending scenario for life after death and the possible fate of your soul once it has departed the body.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OK, so if you're like me, you may be put off by the premise that this hard-boiled detective collects the souls of the recently dead, rather than fingerprints and clues. But not to worry - in the hands of Duane Swierczynski, if not the most talented, certainly the most original young author it hit the pages in the last decade or so, mixing crime fiction and metaphysics is child's play. "Secret Dead Men" is an incredible achievement: fresh, inventive, darkly humorous, unconventional, bizarre, and ultimately an unforgettable page-turner. It will have you scratching your head and flipping back through the pages in some parts; laughing out loud in others, while thinking "I can't believe Swiercynski pulled this off" though out.

So yeah, Del Farmer is a private detective, but he is also dead, murdered about a decade before the novel's 1976 setting. Upon is death, his soul was transported into the body of another, and from that point, Farmer is able to "host" the souls of others in his own "Brain Hotel". This comes in handy as Farmer, bent on taking revenge on the mysterious "Association" that offed him in real life, is able to collect the souls of folks with knowledge and facts that could help him on his quest of vengeance. Sound convoluted? You bet - but trust me, it works. Swiercynski's management of the Brain Hotel is brilliant - Sartre created a philosophy and won a Nobel Prize with less - while Swierczynski simply bends culture, religion, the spirit, and noir for fun.

Look, this is a book that is better read than reviewed. Just do it - or you'll be missing the first truly original novel of the 21st Century. Well done, Mr. S!
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Format: Hardcover
"Secret Dead Men" is in a realm by itself.

When I picked up this book, I literally couldn't imagine where the author would take me from one page to the next. Swierczynski creates this odd afterlife (not the kind learned at church) and forces the reader to emotionally invest into the whacky characters and their plights.

Set in Philadelphia in the seventies, I didn't understand any of his cultural allusions. However, by the end of the novel, I was fully familiar with the Brain Hotel, the soul stealing capabilities of the protagonist, and even had a new appreciation of toilets.

This is the kind of book that will make you giddy with the eccentricity of it all... and might make you a tad disappointed in the next book you pick up. But, don't fear... I think the author has another novel coming out soon.

If it's anything like "Secret Dead Men," buy it on a long weekend. You'll want to do nothing else!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of my favorites. It has been a frequent gift and sadly it is out of print.

I originally purchased it to get free delivery (I now have Amazon Prime) as an afterthought, not being terribly impressed by the plot descriptions or reader recommendations. It has turned out to be my favorite of Swierczynski's books. I have read all his other fiction works and while some approach the giddy, transcendent lunacy of these, they all fall short. I apologize because this is Swierczynski's first novel.

Swierczynski imagines that our perception of reality is an illusion. Consciousness and being are more liquid and changeable than we ever considered. When asked to describe it recently I thought of Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim had become unstuck in time. Dell runs the brain hotel with the souls he has absorbed after their body's death.

On an investigation to find the people responsible for his murder, Dell allows fellow souls of the Brain Hotel temporary control of the body they share to find the secret they all seek.

It is a deliriously giddy ride, climaxing in souls bouncing between body after body taking control of each succeeding body.

This is a work of utter genius. It may not be for everybody, but those who get it will find it unforgettable and brilliant. An amazing first novel and an act impossible to follow.

Swierczynski's subsequent books are, however, quite good!
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