Thursday, June 14, 2018

Backward Facing

Coming back after so long--well, I've read a lot of books in the past six months or so.  Don't worry, I'm not going to try to get caught up.  I'm going to hit the high notes, maybe a couple of low notes, and try to talk about the ones I got as advance copies, even though those are pretty much all out at this point.

A perfect example is Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud, by Elizabeth Greenwood.  This book was published last August, so I've had an advance copy for more than I year; I read it a few months ago, though. 

This book has some great meat with maybe a little more filler than I'd like.  The author is inspired to start looking into faking one's own death after a joke she and her friends made while lamenting their student loan debt.  This is a fine jumping off point, but she kept coming back to the idea throughout--the idea that this is something she's considering, at least on some level.  Any part where she thinks about doing this herself is kind of thin.

That said, the research she does is pretty great.  I was especially interested in the death fraud investigators and the death fraud coach (my term).  The "coach" is someone who helps you live off the grid to whatever extent you want, and who "theoretically" understands how to go further than that.  The insurance investigators have seen the whole deal, though, and I would watch a trashy network show about them tracking people down to small countries in other hemispheres where it's pretty easy to bribe a medical examiner.

There are a few stories of people who got away with faking their own deaths for a while, which is about as close to a success story as you can come (true successes don't ever have their stories leaked).  People who were caught years later after setting up new lives. It appears to really take a sociopathic streak to do this--or a dearth of community ties, I guess, but each of these people left family behind in ways that come across as pretty harsh.

So yeah, a lot of fun stuff in here, with a little more about the author's personal and emotional journey than I wanted in this particular book. Something a little more reporter-style, a bit Mary Roachier, would have been nice, but this is a very solid outing. 

My first review in months!  Feels good.  I need to get my legs under me, though; I could be funnier.  Still, welcome back!


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Anonymous said...

Welcome back!! I have missed reading your reviews.