Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf. Publisher: The Permanent Press (September 2012). Mystery/thriller. Hardcover. 288 pages. ISBN: 978-1-57962-283-1
Here’s the thing with this novel: I liked the details of Connecticut [generally a blandish state] and Fairfield County in particular (I lived there for eight years as a child) more than I liked the main character. Knopf proves quite good in writing about place, usually Long Island. In Dead Anyway he’s introducing readers to a new character and another series. At the beginning of the novel, Arthur Cathcart returns home to find a gun pointed at his wife Florencia. The gunman shoots them both in the head. Florencia, who works for an insurance company dies on site. When Arthur regains consciousness, he insists that his physician sister Evelyn declare him dead so he can track Florencia’s killer. And we’re off. Arthur works as a geeky numbers researcher and handily hacks into computer and security systems.
It’s a page-turner due to the horrific crime committed to Arthur and his wife. Also as a reader you want to know why someone would do this. Throughout Arthur’s ordeal to uncover why someone targeted his wife, Knopf includes magnificent, detailed descriptions of Connecticut [“So it was no charade for me to walk into a small shop in Westport that stank of wool, silk and leather, and completely give myself over to the predacious attentions of a tiny white-haired man named Preston Nestor.”] are magnificent and fascinating post-coma, post-gunshot information [“I welcomed the lush euphoria of semi-consciousness, where I could note the staggering destruction that had been done to me without feeling its effects.”]
Unfortunately Knopf doesn’t provide enough about Arthur to wholly feel concern for him. His well-being really didn’t matter to me in the end. Following him on the run and in disguise as various characters tends to be a fun thing but in the end I remained rather neutral about the real guy. If he’s going to be the center of an entire thriller series than the author needs to bolster that central character and make him much more layered and compelling. Right now he’s flat.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.