The Dead I Know
razorbill an imprint of
Five years ago when I read a book I always had a pencil in my hand and made notes and grabbed quotes as I read. As I have been reading more and more electronically, now when I do read a physical book I find I just have lost that habit. But this book was so compelling that I stopped on a number of occasions to write down quotes to share with others. This is the first of Scot Gardner's books to be released in Canada. It was an amazing read. I literally read it in less than 24 hours and could not stop talking about it and think about it for days afterwards. It is an incredible read.
Aaron Rowe is a young man who has had trouble fitting in at school. He is now beginning an apprenticeship to work as a funeral director. On one of his first days there is a motorcycle accident and he finds the head some distance from the body and he reflects to himself: "I became aware, as John closed the door, that although we'd been conducting the same search, the policemen and I had been looking for different things and for different reasons. They were hunting for mortal remains to finish a job. I was hunting the still countenance of someone's son, perhaps their brother, maybe even their father, to bring him a final grace. By giving him grace, I found some of my own. The police protected the living, ambulance officers protected the injured and we protected the dead. All as it should be." He likes his new work and seems to have a natural knack for it. But Aaron is suffering from nightmares and sleep walking and both are getting progressively worse. As they are getting worse, so is his mother; she is slipping into dementia and Aaron does not want to lose her and her presence in his life. He thinks to himself: "With that fragment of conversation, I knew the scales had tipped. Mam had gone and probably wouldn't find her way back Perhaps she'd gone home? She'd done her work. She'd schooled me in life the way an institution never could. She'd made me think long and hard about everything and anything, answered every question I'd ever asked and many that I hadn't. She'd fed me, washed me and clothed me until I could do it for myself. Until I could do it for her. She'd grown old and now she was growing young again, all innocence and hugs. It seemed to have happened so fast, but if I stopped to think about it there had been years of incremental decline, faithfully denied by us both until- paf, like a blown globe - she'd finally let go. Until that moment, when I'd let go too." Again, later in the book, he reflects on the turmoil in his life and nightmares and the peace of his new work. "The smell of air-freshener flowers had become linked in my mind to the cool stillness of death, and death was my new best friend - someone I'd only just met but felt I'd known forever." And so begins the tale of Aaron.
The characters in this story are amazing - Aaron, his new boss John, and John's very precocious daughter Skye. Between their interactions with the living and the dead it makes for a wonderful tale.
In the last 5 years I have read 800 books and this is the number 2 fiction book in that time. (The first being I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.) It was so good that I bought and read the only ebook available in North America by Scot Gardner the day after I finished this book. On a side note, I lent this book to my mother- in-law after reading it. She works in the funeral industry and she could not put it down and also read it in one day. I cannot think of higher recommendations than the two of us, so different but both unable to stop reading. So pick it up and give it a try. The Dead I Know just might surprise you in more ways than one.
Books by Scot Gardner:
The Dead I Know
The Detachable Boy
Happy as Larry
One Dead Seagull
White Ute Dreaming
The Other Madonna
The Legend of Kevin the Plumber
One Wheel Drive
The Lost King
Author Profile and Interview with Scot Gardner