Flashback Friday: Alive in Necropolis

Flashback Friday is my own little weekly tradition, in which I pick a book from my reading past to highlight — and you’re invited to join in!

Here are the Flashback Friday book selection guidelines:

  1. Has to be something you’ve read yourself
  2. Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  3. Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:

Alive in Necropolis

Alive in Necropolis
by Doug Dorst
(published 2008)

Synopsis (Goodreads):

A fresh, imaginative debut novel about a young police officer in northern California struggling to keep the peace – and maintain a grip on reality – in a town where the dead outnumber the living.

Colma, California, is the only incorporated city in America where the dead outnumber the living. The longtime cemetery for San Francisco, it is the resting place of the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Wyatt Earp, and aviation pioneer Lincoln Beachey. It is also the home of Michael Mercer, a rookie cop trying to go by the book as he struggles to navigate a new realm of grownup relationships including a shaky romance with an older woman; a growing alliance with his cocky, charismatic partner, Nick Toronto; fading college friendships; and an aching sense of responsibility for a local rich kid who Mercer rescues from a dangerous prank in the cemetery.

But instead of settling comfortably into adult life, Mercer becomes obsessed with the mysterious fate of his predecessor in the police unit, Sergeant Featherstone, who seems to have become confused about whether he was policing the living or the dead. And as Mercer delves deeper into Featherstone’s story, it appears that Mercer’s own sanity is beginning to slip — either that, or Colma’s more famous residents are not resting in peace as they should be.

With all the playful sensitivity of Haruki Murakami and the haunted atmosphere of Paul Auster, but with a voice all his own, Doug Dorst has crafted an irresistible, compelling debut.

Last week, having received a lovely giftcard, I treated myself to S., the new book collaboration between J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve definitely been enjoying handling the book, looking at all the odds and ends tucked inside, and wondering how on earth to actually go about reading it.

Meanwhile, looking at S. and reading a bit about how the project came about reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading Doug Dorst’s first novel, Alive in Necropolis. Funny and spooky, this book portrays its ghostly characters with as much “life” as its actual flesh-and-blood characters. The police force and their patrols of the cemetery are quite entertaining, and I loved the writing and the inventiveness in this wonderful novel.

Plus, as a San Francisco resident, Alive in Necropolis gave me a fresh view and a whole new appreciation for the vast cemeteries of Colma!

Happy Friday, and enjoy your flashbacks!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Alive in Necropolis

    • I love The Graveyard Book! But I’d say Alive in Necropolis — apart from the setting — is really different. For adults, for one thing, and also set in a world that’s decidedly non-magical (except for all those ghosts in the cemeteries…). But yes, lots of fun!

  1. I’ve been wondering about Abrams & Dorst ever since S. turned up in the shop last week, so your FF has been very timely for me.
    I’m not sure I could tackle S. – too many tangents to get lost in I think for my linear brain!

    • I know what you mean! I was really excited to get S., but now that I have it, I’m finding it kind of overwhelming — can’t figure out whether to read the book part straight through, and then the notes, or try to absorb everything on each page at once, which seems very UN-linear… I don’t know. It’s very cool to look at, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it!

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