Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pg. 69: John MacLachlan Gray's "Not Quite Dead"

The latest feature at the Page 69 Test: John MacLachlan Gray's Not Quite Dead.

About the book, from the publisher:

On a rust-bucket cargo ship bound from Liverpool to the United States in 1848, an Irish stowaway named Devlin steals a suspicious package after witnessing it changing hands between two sea captains. All he finds is a seemingly worthless pile of papers marked “David Copperfield, Final Four Numbers, by Charles Dickens.” Devlin is determined to see if he can somehow turn events to his advantage by paying a call on Dickens’s American publisher.

A year later, a newly admitted patient to a Baltimore hospital, a disreputable writer who goes by the name of Edgar Allan Poe, is clearly raving mad, which makes it easy to dismiss his claims to have information about the murder of an innocent woman.

Meanwhile, the eminent English novelist Charles Dickens has embarked on a tour of America, where his views are not received as he would have wished. Dickens’s growing discomfort reaches new heights of intensity when he finds himself sharing disreputable lodgings -- and reluctantly collaborating with -- none other than Edgar Allan Poe, who has gone into hiding after faking his own death in a desperate attempt to escape the Irish mob.

Like White Stone Day, which The Washington Post hailed as “a Dickens of a thriller,” this is a brilliantly imaginative tale in which crime and literature intersect in surprising ways.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"This terrific book, Gray's best, is a witty tour de force of historical reconstruction."
--The Globe and Mail

"Achingly, and really very darkly, funny. Read Not Quite Dead immediately."
--William Gibson

"A deep streak of black humor and an imaginative plot make for another rich read from the talented Gray."

"Witty, stylish, literate fun."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Not quite Dead is not quite perfect, but it's damn close."
--Hamilton Spectator
John MacLachlan Gray is a writer-composer-performer for the stage, film, television, radio and print. He is known for his stage musicals, including the successful Billy Bishop Goes to War, and for his satirical videos on CBC-TV’s The Journal. Gray is the recipient of many awards — a Golden Globe, the Governor General’s Medal and the Order of Canada.

Read an excerpt from Not Quite Dead, and learn more about the author and his work at John MacLachlan Gray's website.

The Page 69 Test: Not Quite Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue