Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Death Notice" = Page Gripper

"Death Notice" is more than a page turner. It's a page gripper.

A couple of wrong takes on obit writers -- the protagonist is one -- don't mar this riveting mystery. Though, they do promote a stereotype beginning with author Todd Ritter's book jacket bio.

Ritter, pictured here and a New Jersey Star-Ledger reporter, tells us he has "interviewed celebrities, covered police standoffs, and even written obituaries."


Main character Henry Goll, Perry Hollow [PA] Gazette obit writer predictably referred to in the newsroom as Henry Ghoul, is asked, "Do you ever miss being a reporter?"

Goll's response, "I'm an obituary writer. Not a reporter."


Get past a few professional gaffs and get engrossed in this complex mystery where everyone is a believable suspect in small town Perry Hollow's first murder.

Ritter weaves an engaging story with enough of the macabre to have readers wondering if he experienced it himself to add such riveting detail. Was he buried alive? Were his lips sewn together? Has he floated in a pine coffin in a lake? Sniffed formaldehyde?

As journalists and obit writers, we've all had our share of bizarro -- the death notice faxed to obits just hours before the person commits suicide . . . or is murdered. But, would we let our jobs propel us into endangering our own lives?

Just released by Minotaur Books, "Death Notice" is a standout first novel. Read other reviews online and on Ritter's Web page: For this review, we wanted to examine how Ritter treats his obit writer. Goll is believable.

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