No Rest for the Dead

No Rest for the Dead
David Baldacci (Introduction), Sandra Brown, R.L. Stine, et. al.
Touchstone
ISBN-13: 978-1451607376

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As a reader, I appreciate a good story. I like plots that aren’t too predictable, but aren’t completely random, either. A bit of action, some empathetic characters, a quick enough pace to pull me along, and enough twists to keep me guessing.

As a writer, I also appreciate cohesion. Everything needs to make sense within the context of the story, even if only at the end. The writing needs to be consistent from chapter to chapter, from page to page. All of the random bits of information sprinkled throughout the story come together in a blinding flash of realization at the end, and you look back and say, “Ooooh, that’s what that was about!”

I realize how difficult it can be to achieve all of these things within the context of a book. It can take months, years even, of revision to get a manuscript pulled together and ready for publication, and then rounds and rounds of editing.

Considering how much effort it takes for one person to craft a contiguous novel, think of the feat it would be for multiple authors to stick so closely together in one voice, one style, one complete and seamless story.

That’s just what the authors–all twenty-six of them–have done in No Rest for the Dead.

If you’re familiar with contemporary authors at all–and if you’re here at LitStack, let’s assume you are–you’ve undoubtedly heard of some of the authors who contributed to No Rest for the Dead: Diana Gabaldon, Andrew F. Gulli, Raymond Khoury, Kathy Reichs, Jonathan Santlofer, and R.L. Stine are just a few of the big names.

For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit that I have not previously read anything by any of the authors of this book. I knew some of their names, and I have seen every episode of Bones, but aside from that, I have no foreknowledge of any of them. Additionally,  I don’t generally read mysteries, because the few I have read have been either disappointingly predictable (and if it’s predictable to me, that’s pretty bad) or so completely unpredictable that they make no sense. Fiction must be logical, at least in the end.

The authors did a marvelous job at keeping the style of the novel cohesive. I expected to learn about the authors’ writing styles via a small sampling from each of them, but they somehow managed to transcend their individual voices and write as one. Sure, there were a few minor stylistic differences, but those generally read as differences in characters, as the point of view shifted among a number of characters and even time periods. As a whole, the story flowed seamlessly from author to author.

The story itself revolves around a former detective, Jon Nunn, and the execution of a convicted murderer, who Nunn believes may not have been guilty after all. The executed woman’s will dictates that a memorial should be held on the tenth anniversary of her death, and as the occasion nears, suspicions rise again and Nunn continues on his search for truth.

The authors lead you to suspect everyone involved, and every time the point of view changes, so do your guesses as to whom the villain is. The introduction, (written by David Baldacci), claims you won’t be able to figure it out, and that’s probably true. The truth is complex enough that although you may figure out bits and pieces, chances are you won’t guess the whole story until the big reveal. You will, however, have clues to lead you in that direction, so you’ll be able to look back and finally understand everything that happened. Which is, of course, what makes a mystery good.

And this mystery is good.

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