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Book Review: Literally Dead by James Conroy

Amazon summary
In the midst of the Great Depression, one man must do battle against corruption with nothing but his wits and a host of great literary figures… Amos Jansen is merely a clerk. He is not a crime fighter, the next great writer, or a man of privilege. He is the humble employee of a Chicago literary society. That is, until he is arrested for murder. The scapegoat of a perfidious lieutenant, Jansen stands wrongly accused while his idols rally around him. Literary personalities the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Nelson Algren, and H.L. Mencken, as well as civil liberties war-horse Clarence Darrow, join Amos in his search for the real murderer of both the society’s vice-chairman and his own father. Will the pen prove mightier than the pistol? Will mercenary police, politicians and money-barons meet with justice? Or will Jansen fail to solve the mystery and wind up literally dead?

My review
I must have been half-asleep the two or three times I read the blurb before reading the book, because where it says, “with nothing but his wits and a host of great literary figures,” I read it as “with nothing but his wits and THE GHOSTS of great literary figures”. You can imagine my surprise when I started reading and woke up. It was a good surprise, though. I’m not a literary snob, and have read relatively few “classics”, so I know very little about the authors in this book or their work. I feel like I know the authors so well now, though, that I feel guilty about that, and almost want to apologize to them. As none of them are in my author groups, I suppose I’ll have to make due with checking out their work.

The author did a wonderful job of writing a “whodunit” with quite a bit of humor, featuring some of the great figures of the Depression era. I got so wrapped up in the story, I actually cried when the epilogue mentioned Hemingway’s suicide. And yes, I actually did know about that before I read it in this book.

About the book
Title: Literally Dead
Author: James Conroy
Publisher: Knox Publishing
Release date: September 1, 2011
Pages: 344
Where I got the book: Free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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