Crime writer and former prosecutor Linda Fairstein helped to found a group called Safe Horizon in 1978. This organization provides support and promotes justice for victims of crime and abuse. Her involvement in this serial anthology Inherit the Dead includes the proceeds gained from its sale donated to aid in the great work Safe Horizon continues to do for victims and their families.
Jonathan Santlofer, himself a bestselling crime writer as well as renowned artist, had the unenviable task of not only writing the first chapter of the novel (which could be a blessing a in disguise) but also the more daunting assignment of assembling the group of international writers who each provided a chapter to Inherit the Dead.
With Lee Child providing the introduction, Santlofer takes the reins and kicks off a story featuring a former cop and now hard-boiled P.I. by the name of Pericles 'Perry' Christo. Perry is hired by a rich and allegedly dying socialite named Julia Drusilla. Drusilla needs to find her daughter, Angelina (or 'Angel'). It seems Angel is just days away from turning twenty-one-years old and becoming eligible for a huge inheritance—all of which will be hers when the 'ill' Julia passes away.
What transpires is a classic tale told consistently in the crime noir fashion. Bouncing between the wealthy world of uptown NYC and the seedy, washed out parts of Montauk, Long Island, Inherit the Dead tells a straightforward P.I. tale created by a slew of talented authors all with respect for the genre.
There are twenty chapters, and each author gets to deliver one apiece. It's sort of like a literary game of improv as the preceding author has the ability to enter new plot elements or characters into the story line, which must be picked up and followed by the succeeding writers. Contributions range from veteran writers like Lawrence Block (who writes the final chapter) to romantic suspense author Heather Graham and even former prosecutor Marcia Clark of the infamous O.J. Simpson trial.
All of these authors are up to the task, though some chapters are more intriguing than others. I particularly liked the chapters written by Dana Stabenow and Mark Billingham. In some cases, signature elements like John Connolly's knowledge of vinyl records and Val McDermid's overt homage to the writings of Hammett and Chandler are present. The story is enjoyable but at times overshadowed by the clever plotting of the twenty authors.
I also found the names used within the story unique. Obvious references to both classic literature and historical figures abound, with names like Loki, Hyde, Watson, Lilith, Tweed, Hook, Gawain and Athena to keep things constantly interesting. Inherit the Dead delivers on every level, a solid mystery read that will please both modern fans of this genre as well as those who enjoy old-school crime noir.