No Rest for the Dead Book Review By Ron FortierNO REST FOR THE DEAD
By 26 Mystery Writers
Edited by Andrew F. Gulli & Lamia J. Gulli
Touchstone Books
252 pages

Ever heard of a round robin? A round-robin story, or simply “round robin,” is a type of collaborative fiction or storytelling in which a number of authors each write chapters of a novel or pieces of a story in rounds. They were invented in the 19th century, and later became a tradition particularly in science fiction. Having been personally involved with several round-robin projects, we can attest to just how difficult they are to pull off and most of them begun are never completed. Conflicting egos, styles of writing, etc. etc. all are factors in undermining a project that demands a strict adherence to one narrative plot. Round-robins are easily derailed for dozens of reasons.

Which is why when we stumbled upon “No Rest For The Dead,” in an old bookstore last year, we were immediately intrigued by the dust-jacket’s claim that 26 writers had successfully come together to create gripping murder mystery. Was it true? Did the book actually work? We took a chance, bought a copy and hoped for the best.

Rosemary and Christopher Thomas are curators of a well established art museum in San Francisco. Their marriage is falling apart thanks to his wandering eye. Aware of his unfaithfulness, Rosemary threatens to divorce him. Christopher warns her that should she do so he will fight for custody of their two children; thus assuring he maintains his hold on Rosemary’s inherited wealth. When Christopher disappears soon after a public confrontation at the museum, the police are ultimately called in as a matter of routine. Months later his body is discovered in a Berlin museum folded into a medieval torture device known as an iron maiden. What is left of it, that is. Only through a single tooth and pinky finger are the authorities able to identify the liquefied remains as those of Christopher Thomas.

Soon after Rosemary is arrested, tried and convicted of his murder. She is sentenced to be put to death by chemical injection. And that, dear readers, is where this mystery begins, at the execution of Rosemary Thomas. Present are her closest acquaintances including her alcoholic brother, Peter, and Detective Joe Nunn, the cop who’s testimony help convict her. It is a riveting scene and one that propels the tale. Ten years pass and Nunn learns there is a memorial service planned for the anniversary of Rosemary’s death to be held at the museum. Invited are the same select group who were present at her demise.

For Nunn, the intervening years have been haunting as he never truly believed Rosemary killed her husband thus his guilt for helping to bring about her death has destroyed both his marriage and career. With the news of this gathering, the ex-cop begins to wonder if it may be a way for him to reopen the case and not only prove Rosemary’s innocent but eventually find the real killer. As the date of the event draws nearer, he begins to suspect that, if he is correct, that killer may be among those invited to participate.

From its first page to its last, “No Rest For The Dead,” is a truly masterful, intense and beautiful crafted mystery. That 26 different writers were involved with its creation is nothing short of mind-blowing to this reviewer. All mystery novels should be this good. And so let us end with a tip of our pulp fedora to the 26.

(Jeff Abbot – Lori Armstrong – Sandra Brown – Thomas Cook – Jeffery Deaver – Diana Gabaldon – Tess Gerristsen – Andrew F. Gulli – Peter James – J.A. Jance – Faye Kellerman –Raymond Khoury – John Lescroart – Jeff Lindsay – Gayle Lynds – Phillip Margolin – Alexander McCall Smith – Michael Palmer – T. Jefferson Parker – Matthew Pearl – Kathey Reichs – Marcus Sakey – Johanthan Santlofer – Lisa Scottloline – R.L. Stine – Marcia Talley)

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