Saturday, November 30, 2013

Inherit The Dead

Inherit the Dead is a novel written by 20 top selling mystery writers, (names below), each writing one chapter of the same story.  Did it work?  Not really.  As a mystery the plot relied on an overdone storyline and far, far too much going over background that was already covered.  It was as though each writer had to fix in his or her own mind exactly where the plot was headed pulling the reader along with them.  I wouldn’t call it boring, just tedious.
What was good about it?  It was a fascinating study of twenty creative minds closing in on one central character and the subsequent supporting cast.  I found it amazing that, for the most part, they kept the character in character except for the chapter written by James Grady.  I thought he completely lost the concept.  I found it interesting to note the subtle, and not so subtle, writing styles brought into each chapter.  My favorite authors were true to their craft and didn’t disappoint even in this unusual medium.  The authors I didn’t know (and will probably never read) most likely true to theirs.  Some relied heavily on the ‘F’ word for shock effect, or to fill space I’m not sure which.  That word is vastly overused both in spoken and written speech and long ago lost whatever sensation it was supposed to generate.
Why should you buy the book?  It’s a passable read – interesting concept and proceeds from its sale go to, Safe Horizon, a victim assistance agency. More information about their mission can be found at   As sad as it seems without victims of crime, crime writers would have no plots. In an awkward sense you are supporting the genre by buying this book.
 If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, it’s a great book to read and re-read.  Knowing, as you do, that each of these authors are best sellers in the mystery field.  Analyzing how they were able to move within a structured framework and carry the storyline is a lesson in writing discipline.  And, that’s your homework for today!
 Contributors include: Lee Child, Jonathan Santlofer, Stephen L. Carter, Marcia Clark, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Sarah Weinman, Bryan Gruley, Alafair Burke, John Connolly, James Grady, Ken Bruen, Lisa Unger, S.J. Rozan, Dana Stabenow, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark, C.J. Box, Max Allan Collins, Mark Billingham, Lawrence Block, with an explanation about Safe Horizon from Linda Fairstein.