No Rest for the Dead
by David Baldacci (Introduction)
Review: Twenty-six popular mystery writers contribute a chapter or two each to the crime novel No Rest for the Dead, a stand-alone thriller with an introduction by David Baldacci.
During their marriage, socialite Rosemary Thomas faithfully supported her husband Christopher's career as curator and front man for San Francisco's small but influential McFall Art Museum. But after years of his openly conducted extramarital affairs and lavishly spending the income from her trust fund, she's had enough … and tells him so during a gala held at the museum. When he disappears later that night and his badly decomposed body is discovered weeks later, Rosemary is held on suspicion of murder. The evidence against her is overwhelming, as is the District Attorney's desire to convict a prominent citizen in an election year, and she is found guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to death. Ten years after her execution, a memorial service is coordinated at which all the principals involved in her trial are invited. But the cop who was instrumental in sealing Rosemary's fate now believes she was innocent … and someone at this service has gotten away with murder.
The good news is that there's a terrific story being told in No Rest for the Dead, though it isn't quite as unpredictable as David Baldacci, in his introduction, would have one believe. The events leading up to the execution of Rosemary Thomas provide a riveting opening to the book, with the storyline picking up 10 years later. The driven plot is relentless in its pacing, not allowing much time for any subtlety or nuance in storytelling, and also not providing much in terms of intentional misdirection (i.e. whodunit-style suspense).
The less good news is that there doesn't seem to be any point in having 26 authors contribute to this book other than as a marketing gimmick. Or maybe the editors — Andrew F. Gulli and Lania Gulli — were overzealous in trying to keep it all homogeneous. Each chapter is essentially written in the same manner, so much so that it seems as if the authors were given an plot outline and a style guide and told to follow it without variation — the inconsistent use of first and third person perspectives, notwithstanding. Whereas many, maybe all, of these authors have their own distinctive voice in their own novels, here it is impossible — at least for this reviewer — to randomly pick one chapter and identify who wrote it based on its content. (Kathy Reichs scored the "bones" chapter, so there is that.) There might as well have been one unknown, unnamed author … and the book would have been just as interesting.
Last year Jeffery Deaver — who also participated to this effort — coordinated a similar project, with a large number of mystery writers contributing to two novellas that were published together as Watchlist. Though the storyline in No Rest for the Dead is arguably stronger than that of either of the novellas, the chapters in the Watchlist novellas seem to be structured to take advantage of the respective strengths of the contributing authors, making it a far more unique — though not necessarily better — book than No Rest for the Dead.
The contributing authors to the present book are Jeff Abbott, Lori Armstrong, Sandra Brown, Thomas Cook, Jeffery Deaver, Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritsen, Andrew F. Gulli, Peter James, J. A. Jance, Faye Kellerman, Raymond Khoury, John Lescroart, Jeff Lindsay, Gayle Lynds, Philip Margolin, Alexander McCall Smith, Michael Palmer, T. Jefferson Parker, Matthew Pearl, Kathy Reichs, Marcus Sakey, Jonathan Santlofer, Lisa Scottoline, R. L. Stine, and Marcia Talley.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided an ARC of No Rest for the Dead for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in No Rest for the Dead: San Francisco, California
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No Rest for the Dead by David Baldacci (Introduction)
Publication Date: July 2011
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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