Knopf, Apr 2001, 23.00, 258 pp.
Once a rock and roll icon, but now more a golden oldie, McMahon begins receiving a letter a week signed by a woman dead for well over a decade. When the missives start to turn uglier and threatening, McMahon hires disillusioned New York City police detective Youselli to investigate the source and why. The rock idol informs Youselli that Leah baby-sat for the child of a now dead band member, but died in Paris fifteen years ago.
Youselli begins questioning those close to McMahon and quickly realizes that his employer has not been totally truthful with his information. Soon Youselli becomes obsessed with the investigation and wonders if Leah actually still lives. His own life in emotional shamble, Youselli begins to live through the weekly letter even as he seeks the truth.
BACK FROM THE DEAD is at times an engaging mystery due to its fascinating but gloomy characters that readers will actually detest. However, the story line takes to long to develop and will lose those in the audience whom prefer a faster pace. Chris Petit shows flashes of a top talent, especially with the cast and their dialogue, but needs to tighten the plot so that the reader will not feel like they hit the wall of a marathon.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner