Gin Mackey’s new novel, Disappear our Dead, is profound. I know that’s an unusual adjective to apply to a novel, but this is much more than a great story.
The death of the husband of Abby who lives on the coast of Maine plunges her into grief, her life deteriorating into isolation, when she rarely got out of bed. But then her daughter gets her up and out, and she finds new life in performing home funerals and “awakes.”
I loved the idea of “awakes” which gather folks around a dying person to let that person know how much he or she meant to the folks. These were major events with music and lots of story telling, and clearly made a big difference as the end of a life neared. I also learned a lot about home funerals, something that was common in the old days but is rare today.
This information is why I called the novel profound. But don’t get me wrong, there’s also a compelling murder story as Abby pursues the idea that someone murdered a lady who was on her death’s bed but not yet ready to go. Some folks suspect that Abby killed the lady, so she seeks the truth to clear the air and allow her to move forward with her plan to offer home funerals and awakes to families in her area.
I’ll only tell you that you will be surprised by what Abby discovers. And you will not put this novel down. It’s a great read but even better, it’s an important book on end of life care and funerals.
Gin Mackey lives in Owls Head and is a very good writer. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Best New England Crime Stories 2016, and she is past president of the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime. And no, that doesn’t mean they are criminals! But they do write great crime novels.
I loved Gin’s novel, Suddenly Spying, and you can read my review of that book in the Book Review section of my website www.georgesmithmaine.com. You can also learn more about Gin and her writings at www.ginmackey.com.