The Distant Dead

The Distant Dead

A Novel

Book - 2020 | First edition.
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"A body burns in the high desert hills. A boy walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of a grisly discovery. A middle school teacher worries when her colleague is late for work. By day's end, when the body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town will be rocked to its core by a brutal and calculated murder. Adam Merkel left a university professorship in Reno to teach middle school in Lovelock seven months before he died. A quiet, seemingly unremarkable man, he connected with just one of his students: Sal Prentiss, a lonely sixth grader who lives with his uncles on a desolate ranch in the hills. The two outcasts developed a tender, trusting friendship that brought each of them hope in the wake of tragedy. But it is Sal who finds Adam's body, charred almost beyond recognition, half a mile from his uncles' compound. Nora Wheaton, the middle school's social studies teacher, dreamed of a life far from Lovelock only to be dragged back on the eve of her college graduation to care for her disabled father, a man she loves but can't forgive. She sensed in the new math teacher a kindred spirit--another soul bound to Lovelock by guilt and duty. After Adam's death, she delves into his past for clues to who killed him and finds a dark history she understands all too well. But the truth about his murder may lie closer to home. For Sal Prentiss's grief seems heavily shaded with fear, and Nora suspects he knows more than he's telling about how his favorite teacher died. As she tries to earn the wary boy's trust, she finds he holds not only the key to Adam's murder, but an unexpected chance at the life she thought she'd lost. Weaving together the last months of Adam's life, Nora's search for answers, and a young boy's anguished moral reckoning, this unforgettable thriller brings a small American town to vivid life, filled with complex, flawed characters wrestling with the weight of the past, the promise of the future, and the bitter freedom that forgiveness can bring."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780062690814
Branch Call Number: YOUNG
Characteristics: 342 pages ; 24 cm


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Dec 30, 2020

Middle school math teacher, Adam Merkel has been murdered and collegue, Nora Wheaton has decided to learn more about Adam and who might have wanted him dead. The first place she looks is in the direction of Sal Prentiss, a lonely boy that Adam had taken under his wing and the same boy who found Adam's body. Nora discovers that Adam had lived through the tragic death of his son, Benjamin in a car accident caused by Adam when he was high on heroin. Nora is reminded of the death of her brother Jeremy when her father was driving home drunk and caused an accident that killed Jeremy. Nora's investigation leads her to some disturbing facts that make her wonder if she really knew Adam at all.

I read a review of The Distant Dead describing it as a slow burn, but I found it to be more of an annoying trickle. So much of the information and the characters in the book are not necessary, making it feel like the story was built on red herrings rather than an interesting plot. Each chapter is told from the perspective of either Sal, Nora, or Jake (who doesn't seem to have much to do with the story at all). Some chapters are told from a perspective that is unknown. In the end all of the characters are tragic and not very likable, making for a depressing series of events

IndyPL_CarriG Sep 25, 2020

A thoughtful mystery with a strong sense of place, The Distant Dead is a story of tragedies and their fallout. What happens to the people left behind after addiction and bad choices have crashed through lives in a community? If you want to see some of the casualties of the opioid epidemic in America, and read a well-written mystery novel with flawed and real characters, read this novel.

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