Alive in Necropolis

Alive in Necropolis

Book - 2008
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Baker & Taylor
Navigating adult responsibilities in a California city where the dead outnumber the living, by-the-book rookie cop Michael Mercer struggles through new relationships and becomes increasingly obsessed with the mysterious fate of his predecessor, an officer who believed he policed the dead. A first novel. 20,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
Colma, California, is the only incorporated city in America where the dead outnumber the living. A "cemetery city" serving San Francisco, Colma is the resting place of the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Wyatt Earp, and William Randolph Hearst. It is also the home of Michael Mercer, a rookie cop trying to go by the book as he struggles to navigate a new realm of grown-up relationships - including a shaky romance with an older woman, a burgeoning alliance with his cocky, charismatic partner, Nick Toronto, fading friendships from his civilian life, and an aching sense of responsibility for a local rich kid whom Mercer rescues from a dangerous cemetery prank.
But instead of settling comfortably into adult life, Mercer becomes obsessed with the mysterious fate of his predecessor in the Colma PD, Sergeant Wes Featherstone, who seems to have spent his last years policing the dead as well as the living. As Mercer delves deeper into Featherstone's story, his own sanity starts to slip, too - either that, or Colma's more famous residents are not resting in peace as they should be.

& Taylor

Navigating adult responsibilities in a California city where the dead outnumber the living, rookie cop Michael Mercer becomes increasingly obsessed with the mysterious fate of his predecessor, an officer who believed he policed the dead.

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2008
ISBN: 9781594489877
Characteristics: 437 p


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May 27, 2016

8 out of 10. I am from the SF Bay Area, so the book earned a couple stars just for that. The cover art is a bit comic booky, so I wasn't expecting much of a story (and almost didn't check it out) but it turned out to be a good read.

Oct 29, 2012

This book was a unique read. There is mystery and drama as you are drawn into the life of a new cop who struggles with his ordinary life. The ordinary life is turned upside down when he begins intereacting with the dead citizens of Colma. I was surprised to learn that this was the author's first novel. The plot moved quickly and the character interaction was quite funny. I would recommend reading if you are looking for a refreshing, different story.

If you are from the San Francisco Bay Area, you will enjoy the references and descriptions of the highways and local points of interest that you will surely recognise.

The ending was disappointing and left off drastically after following the character closely on a detailed journey.

Nov 29, 2010

Set in Colma, CA (the real life city where the dead outnumber the living, thanks to San Francisco's decision in the early 20th century to outlaw cemeteries in the city limits), Alive in Necropolis tells the story of Michael Mercer, a police detective. Mercer is not only responsible for maintaining law and order among the living, breathing citizens of Colma, but he also is one of a limited number of people who see dead people, and he takes responsibility for investigating crimes committed by ghosts against each other.

While the novel contains some intriguing characters, author Doug Dorst fails to flesh them out satisfactorily in this debut novel. Dorst certainly holds some promise, as the story is inventive, some of the dialogue is quite funny, and he does create interesting characters. However, I think the awards and critical comparisons for this book are a bit overblown: Dorst has a long way to go before he merits comparison to Dashiell Hammett or Haruki Murakami. I'm surprised this was chosen as the One City, One Book selection for San Francisco in 2009 (although kudos to the City for choosing a first novel!), but I wouldn't be surprised if Dorst writes a book deserving of such honors in the future.

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