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Dead Still

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2006

    There is a Movie here waiting to be made....

    David Wolman is a man of many talents: poet, novelist, critic, music historian, playwright, medical writer, and nature lover and dog sledding aficionado are among his categories of interest. And now with the release of this thriller, DEAD STILL, it looks as though he may be adding 'screenplay writer' to his resume! Wolman knows how to seduce his reader into his tale and uses the technique of seemingly disparate character introductions to slowly and insidiously ferret out the lines of each character that will intertwine inevitably. Divided into short chapters (always a plus for this reader for getting a book started) we meet first an incident in the past that in retrospect is intensely important in the development of the plot - a short description of a murder in the British Virgin Islands that allows some terse philosophy about death, greed, double indemnity and other onerous signs that signal what is ahead. We meet two people - Mason Wolff, a tortured soul of a painter whose mental stability is in the hands of pills and who has decided to live a life of anonymity - easy prey for the likes of Gary Paige, a sinister bloke who has a scam for identity theft and insurance fraud. Wolff lives in Philadelphia in a ratty section where his acquaintances include a dying man Peter Novello, Doggie, and Sarah. Slowly but surely Wolff is extricated from his poor environment and transferred to an outpost in Maine under the identity of -yes, Gary Paige! We know something is awry but it takes his connection with the town doc Susan to bind it all together. Susan lives alone after being the victim of an abusive alcoholic marriage that produced a son who at teen years has become a sociopath. Susan rents an apartment to 'Gary' and finds him attractive, even posing nude for him to paint. Everything begins to shatter when Gary disappears and is 'found dead' in the frozen lake. The real Gary Paige (under the pseudonym of yes, Mason Wolff!) enters the little Maine town determined to get the death certificate on Gary. Susan is suspicious, loses her job as the town doc because of small town gossip about her posing for a patient, and takes off to her real love of dog-sledding from her snowy hideaway in the secret parts of the country - a lake where her friend Dave Dawes, his face brutally disfigured by a grizzly bear attack. Her nemesis follows her with his strange girlfriend Kendra and eventually pursues his plan to identity change Susan with Kendra in another scam, one that leaves Susan to die in the snow until she is discovered by her loyal dog Seer in the company of Dave Dawes. How the now wise crew is joined by the non-dead Mason Wolff and pursues Paige and Kendra to the British Virgin Islands ends the tale of intrigue in yet more deaths and terrifying adventures for all concerned. While the story begs for a bit more character development in the supernumerary cast in order to keep the reader clear as to the plot, Wolman writes with such authority about things medical, things of the wilderness, and tidbits of wise thought such as the following: 'It was supposed to be a nation of laws, not attitudes - a nation of science, not superstition. But all around her seemed to be the seeds of a different kind of America in which diversity was being replaced by compulsory conformity.' and 'Our identities become a house o nameless cards falling into a pit of deceit. For all our security protection, we are the least secure people on earth.' When an author can blend a very exciting fictional novel with informed ideas about medicine, fraud, identity theft and our communal psyche, he most assuredly is on to something worth reading. And DEAD STILL is that something. It is a true page-turner! Grady Harp

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